TORONTO – Tuesday night during the 5:30 p.m. Global Toronto broadcast, a Global News helicopter became the target of a very strong green laser pointer that appeared to be coming from an apartment building.
According to police and visuals from our chopper camera, the laser appeared to be coming from a 3rd floor hotel room on Wilson Avenue. Police are currently investigating the incident.
This is the latest occurrence in just over seven months, when another chopper pilot was targeted while flying over the city, which turned out to be mischief at the hands of a 12-year-old boy.
In that incident no charges were laid. But in 2011, a Calgary man was charged with pointing a green laser at several commercial aircrafts including our Calgary Global News chopper.
More recently in August, in Toronto, a 19-year-old man was charged with pointing a laser at a York Regional Police helicopter.
According to Transport Canada, lasers are deemed very dangerous as the light can temporarily blind the pilot causing them to lose full visibility while in the air and, depending on how long the light is targeted at the individual, that person can suffer more extensive damage to the retina.
The number of laser pointer incidents involving aircraft are on the rise.
Statistics from Transport Canada show that in 2014 there were 512 reported incidents, which is up by 43 per cent from 2012.
That number is up dramatically this year where Canada has seen 596 reported cases so far.
An average laser pointer can have a range of around four kilometres.
The Aeronautics Act states pointing a laser at an aircraft is illegal and an offender can face a fine of $100,000, five years in prison or both.