RCMP issue warning after green laser pointed at plane northwest of Edmonton
'The laser can temporarily blind the pilot ... putting all people aboard the aircraft at serious risk'
A pilot bound for the Villeneuve Airport northwest of Edmonton was able to navigate a safe landing after a green laser was pointed at the plane Wednesday night.
The aircraft was flying somewhere over Sturgeon County when the pilot realized someone was pointing a green laser at the plane, Morinville RCMP said in a statement.
RCMP said it's extremely fortunate that no one was hurt. Laser strikes on an aircraft are extremely dangerous, police said.
"The laser can temporarily blind the pilot, create intense glare that affects the pilot's vision and distract the pilot, putting all people aboard the aircraft at serious risk."
RCMP were notified of the incident by Nav Canada, the private operator of Canada's civil air navigation service.
Police did not provide any details on the plane, how many passengers were on board, or if the pilot required medical attention.
'It's a disturbing statistic'
Last year, the federal government launched a social media campaign focused on the issue of people pointing lasers at planes.
The number of laser incidents reported to Transport Canada has increased in the last few years: In 2014, there were 502 so-called laser strike incidents on planes, a 43-per-cent increase since 2012.
According to Transport Canada, there were more than 500 reported laser strikes in 2016.
"It's a disturbing statistic," RCMP said. "It means the safety of pilots, crew and passengers were put at risk 500 times that year. Pointing a laser at an aircraft is illegal and a criminal offence."
The punishment for anyone caught shining a laser at an aircraft is a fine of up to $100,000, five years in prison, or both.
RCMP are asking anyone with information on the incident to contact the Morinville detachment or Crime Stoppers.