Decline in lasers pointed at aircraft


An awareness campaign about the dangers of “lasering” aircraft has seen a “gradual decline” in the number of these potentially life-threatening incidents.

The campaign, run jointly by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) and the Airline Pilots’ Association of SA, was launched last August.

Phindiwe Gwebu, CAA senior manager corporate communications, said the number of incidents of lasers being pointed at aircraft either on landing finals or just after take-off was down.
“This indicates the campaign has had some positive impact.”

She was supported by Percy Morokane, ATNS external communications manager.
“The distribution of pamphlets highlighting the dangers of pointing lasers at aircraft, especially passenger aircraft, added by an extensive radio publicity campaign in the areas most affected by this type of action, has made people more aware. Our thinking is there are now more members of the general public who know about ‘lasering’ and are on the lookout for people making indiscriminate use of lasers. We hope when they see this illegal activity taking place, they get as much information as possible and inform either their closest airport or police station, obviously without putting themselves in danger,” he said.

Last year 160 laser pointing incidents were reported to CAA’s Central Safety Reporting System.

The number one target for “lasering” still remains Cape Town International Airport with 81 separate incidents reported last year. Lanseria was next highest with 17 followed by Port Elizabeth on 12 and then OR Tambo International and East London with 11 each. A number of smaller airports including Grand Central, Wonderboom and Richards Bay each reported a single laser pointing incident during the year.