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Saturday, 26 April 2014

Beams can be distracting and endanger flights, say authorities

PILOTS are becoming increasingly concerned about laser lights being flashed at planes flying in and out of Changi Airport.

Though they can appear harmless, laser pointers have the potential to cause temporary blindness, which is particularly dangerous as pilots take off and land.

Between January and March, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) received 16 reports of laser lights being flashed here, compared with 25 for the whole of last year. In 2012, there were 45 incidents reported.

The authority has launched a public awareness campaign, targeting households in the east, a spokesman said yesterday. About 76,000 circulars have been distributed in the last few weeks.

There are also regular enforcement patrols in the area, including East Coast beach.

The spokesman said: “A laser light shone into an aircraft cockpit could cause discomfort, distract or even confuse the pilots.”

This could endanger the flight, as well as people on board and on the ground, especially during the critical phases of landing and take-off.

Commonly used during meetings or presentations, laser pointers emit red, green or blue light.

The use of the pen-like battery-operated devices is regulated by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and classified based on their beam power output.

Licences are required to import, possess and use very powerful lasers. But even less powerful laser pointers can be dangerous if used wrongly, the NEA says on its website.

“Even at a very low power of 5 milliwatts (mW), when the laser is aimed directly at the eye, it will cause temporary flash blindness,” it adds.

The danger is especially acute during landing, Captain Mok Hin Choon said.

“During landing, when your eyes are on the ground and laser lights are flashing, it is dangerous. I don’t believe we have had any serious incidents, but it is a potential hazard that needs to be addressed before something serious happens.” — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Tags / Keywords: Regional , world


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