Laser light prank threatens aircraft landing at Piarco

(Trinidad Express)  A “stupid” laser light prank that, internationally, could be considered close to “terrorist activity”, yesterday threatened the safe landings of two aircraft at Piarco International Airport.

A media statement from the National Operations Centre (NOC) yesterday disclosed that surveillance has revealed the lawbreakers to be embedded in Kelly Village, St Helena and Bamboo Village.

The NOC said two Caribbean Airlines flights have reported being hit in the cockpit by laser lights that the crew suggested had come from those neighbourhoods, which were later confirmed by the NOC.

The first flight, CAL 460, was about 2.5 miles on short final to land when the light entered the cockpit.

About five minutes later, CAL 423 was also affected by laser light.

“The pilots of both aircraft reports the light source emanated from the Kelly Village area, which is on the approach path to Piarco,” the NOC reported.

The citizens responsible for this activity are “breaking the law”, the NOC stated, added:

“Internationally this irresponsible behaviour and wanton disregard for the law has been deemed and borders on terrorist activity, as the perpetrators are affecting the landing procedures of an aircraft and placing the passengers, other aircraft and the members of the public on the ground in very grave danger.”

According to the statement, NOC executive director, Garvin Heerah said should the “stupid act” of these persons on the ground fell an aircraft into one of the local energy industry’s installation of oil and gas facilities, the magnitude of the catastrophe “cannot be imagined”.

“The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service with the support of the National Operations Centre would be adopting a zero tolerance of such actions and strongly advise that anyone found conducting this illegal act will receive the full brunt of the law,” the NOC warned.

“The NOC will continue to monitor this situation and with all agencies in a combined effort to bring it to an immediate stop.”

The public is advised that such acts are contrary to “The Civil Aviation [(No. 8) Aviation Security] Amendment) Regulations, 2011”, which states, 3A. “(1) Notwithstanding the requirements of regulation 3, a person shall not recklessly or negligently perform any act, whether on board an aircraft or outside an aircraft, that is likely to endanger or endangers an aircraft or a person on board an aircraft.”

The act also states: “(2) An act under sub regulation (1) that is likely to endanger or endangers an aircraft or a person on board an aircraft, includes but is not limited to the following: (a) a radio transmission that affects a communication, navigation or automatic flight guidance systems of an aircraft; and (b) a laser light source, fireworks, flares or other light sources directed at an aircraft that may affect a flight crew member in the performance of his duties”, and also, “(3) A person who contravenes sub-regulation (2) commits an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of ten thousand dollars and to imprisonment of one year”.

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