So far this year, three incidents involving lasers being pointed at aircraft have been reported in the Timmins area.
While Transport Canada is aware of the reported incidents, media relations senior advisor Frederica Dupuis said, "there was insufficient evidence to determine the origin of the laser attacks."
According to the Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Report System (CADORS), the most recent incident was March 20, when a Jazz Aviation plane coming in from Toronto reported being hit by a laser beam while on approach for runway three at the Timmins airport.
The first report was made Feb. 18 when a Porter Airlines flight reported a laser strike 11 nautical miles from runway three in Timmins. According to the CADORS incident, the laser was on the edge of the city and tracked the plane for 1.5 to two minutes.
Feb. 27, an Air Bravo flight also reported being hit by a green laser several times. The CADORS incident report says the plane, which was en route to Sudbury, was hit by a green laser several times over a three-minute period about three to four nautical miles south of the Timmins airport.
A search of the CADORS database shows no incidents with lasers in 2018.
“Aiming a laser at an aircraft is dangerous and harmful to the pilot, aircraft passengers, people on the ground and is illegal. When a laser is directed at an aircraft cockpit, it can distract the pilot, create glare that affects the pilot’s vision, and cause temporary blindness,” said Dupuis.
Timmins airport manager David Dayment said aircraft approaching the airport are in a critical phase of flight.
"A distraction, or worse - temporary vision impairment of a pilot is not a situation any pilot wants to be in," he said.
In North Bay, police are investigating a complaint about a laser light being directed at an aircraft during a landing approach at Jack Garland Airport March 20.
The plane was several hundred feet off the ground approaching the airstrip when it was targeted by the laser.
Last year, new safety measures were put in place by Transport Canada to prevent laser attacks on aircraft.
Battery-operated hand-held lasers over one milliwatt (mW) are banned outside of a private dwelling without a legitimate purpose such as for work, school or education purposes within a 10-kilometre radius of an airport or certified heliport.
Aiming a laser at an aircraft in Canada is a federal offence.
If you are convicted of intentionally interfering with an aircraft by using a laser, you could face one or both of:
• up to $100,000 in fines
• up to five years in prison
In 2018, there were nearly 211 reported laser strikes on aircraft in Canada.
“The number of laser attacks in Canada has decreased in 2018 when compared to the previous two years. The data for year 2018 indicates a percentage decrease of 46 per cent in laser attacks compared to 2017, and a 61 per cent decrease compared to 2016,” said Dupuis.
- With files from the baytoday.ca