Plane targeted by laser in Tauranga skies

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A laser was shone onto a plane as it prepared to land at Tauranga Airport. Photo/file

Police are investigating reports of a laser targeting a plane as it prepared to land at Tauranga Airport last night.

The Air New Zealand plane from Wellington was due to land about 8.40pm when a laser was pointed at it mid-air.

A police spokeswoman said the laser appeared to have come from the Te Ranga area, between Paengaroa and Oropi.

A police unit was sent out to the area to attempt to locate the person or people responsible but was not successful.

Civil Aviation Authority's Philippa Lagan said it had not yet received any reports of the incident but it could do so over the next several days.

Any person believed to have been shining a laser at passing aircraft could be charged with causing unnecessary danger, and face a term of imprisonment of up to 12 months or a fine of up to $10,000.

Air New Zealand communications consultant Anna Cross confirmed flight NZ8264 from Wellington to Tauranga encountered a laser strike but landed without incident.

The matter was reported to the air traffic control tower.

Ms Cross said laser strikes were potentially dangerous and Air NZ supported the authorities in taking action when they happened.

Night-time laser strikes on aircraft in Tauranga skies were of concern to local pilots.

In a previous article TECT Trustpower Rescue Helicopter Liam BrettKelly said lasers could affect pilots' night vision for several minutes and were dangerous if pilots were wearing night-vision goggles.

Rotorua's BayTrust Rescue Helicopter pilot and base manager Barry Vincent said lasers were extremely dangerous and a major distraction.

"Even a small laser from ground level shining up in our cockpit at 1000 feet (304m), the width of the beam widens. It can fill the whole cockpit," he said.

"It's obviously very distracting and can be blinding. You can suffer serious eye damage from it. It's not a sensible thing to do. Unfortunately there are people who still do it."

Reported laser strikes in the Bay

2010 - 5

2011 - 1

2012 - 4

2013 - 7

2014 - 6

2015 - 4

2016 - 4

Total - 31

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