Laser attacks on aircraft over Kelowna airport disturbing trend | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Laser attacks on aircraft over Kelowna airport disturbing trend

Image Credit: PEXELS/Eddie Chuachoonhui

A laser pointed at a Pacific Coastal Airlines plane flying into Kelowna International Airport on Dec. 1 marks the fifth time it has been reported this year.

In at one least case, an affected pilot turned the aircraft around and returned to the airport.

The Dec. 1 plane was flying into Kelowna from Victoria, and it landed safely.

READ MORE: Two flights struck by lasers at Kelowna airport

Last year, there were six reported incidents. While those are up from previous years, the number of flights were dramatically decreased because of COVID in 2020 and 2021.

In the U.S., the number of similar incidents has jumped dramatically in recent years and could skyrocket this year.

Only 46 incidents were recorded in the U.S. in 2004, according to That jumped to almost 4,000 a decade later and 9,457 last year. Based on trends to July 31 of this year, the number could pass 13,000 for 2023.

Laser Pointer Safety doesn't have current data for Canada, and Transport Canada has not responded to a request from for the information.

Pointing lasers at aircraft is a serious offence in our country that carries fines of up to $100,000 and/or up to five years in jail.

Regina Police Service reported in September that seven people were charged in that city in six separate incidents so far this year. Five of those incidents involved the service’s own aircraft where onboard technology allowed officers to quickly locate the suspects.

Two men were arrested in Saskatoon in November for pointing a laser at that city’s police plane.

“It’s something that we take very seriously because it could result in a critical safety issue,” Shayne Dyrdal, acting CEO of Kelowna International Airport, told “The concern is that the pilot could become disoriented and that could impact their ability to properly read instruments and gauges during crucial portions of their flight and it could also permanently damage their vision."

Kelowna RCMP were not able to provide any information by publication time as to whether anyone in the Central Okanagan have been charged or convicted.

While high powered hand-held lasers can’t legally be sold in Canada, they are available online and green laser pointers are often used by star gazers for pointing out stars.

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada does post information on how to safely use laser pointers and notes that “several people have been caught and given prison terms” for pointing them at aircraft.

It warns not to use them within 10 kilometres of an airport and to turn them off as soon as the object has been pointed out since “the purpose is astronomy, not a distracting laser-light-show.”

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