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Record number of laser strikes on aircraft

Hon Jo Goodhew
Associate Minister of Health

28 February 2014

Record number of laser strikes on aircraft

Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew says the 119 laser strikes on aircraft highlights the importance of the new controls on dangerous laser pointers coming into effect from 1 March 2014.

“Last year we had a record number of laser strikes on aircraft. By comparison there were fewer than ten laser strikes recorded on aircraft in 2006,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“These strikes can also cause temporary flash blindness, which poses a serious risk to pilots. The Civil Aviation Authority reports five laser strike incidents on planes already this year – the most recent affected an international flight landing at Auckland.

“High-powered laser pointers can also cause eye injuries, even blindness, and skin burns. ACC accepts around 10 claims a year for these injuries.”

In December 2013, the Government passed new regulations on hand-held high-power laser pointers with a power output of greater than 1 milliwatt.

The new controls, under Health and Customs legislation, restrict access to these high-power laser devices to those who have a legitimate reason to use them, such as astronomers.

“From 1 March anyone wanting to import, sell or acquire high-powered laser pointers will need to apply to the Ministry of Health for approval. Applications are free, and be made through the Ministry’s website,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“The regulations are in line with Australia’s restrictions and recommendations by the World Health Organization. Lower power devices, like those used for pointing during presentations, will not be affected. The controls also do not apply to more sophisticated laser devices such as survey instruments or rifle sights.”

ENDS

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