Laser attacks reckless, punishable

Izah Azahari

The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) logged six reports of laser related incidents in 2020 and one in 2021 from aircraft operators through the Mandatory Occurrence Reporting (MOR).

DCA Acting Director Haji Mohammad Azlan bin Haji Mohammad Junaidi said this during a press conference at the MTIC yesterday, accompanied by Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Acting Director Senior Superintendent of Police Sulaiman bin Alidin.

“These reports indicate the laser beam is purposely directed at the aircraft. This is deemed a threat to the aircraft as it causes a distraction and visual impairment to the flight crew,” Haji Mohammad Azlan said.

“This is especially dangerous during the critical phases of a flight, such as take-off and landing. This occurrence may lead to unsafe take-offs and landings, and may also subsequently cause potential longer-term health risks to the pilots,” he added.

Directing a laser beam at operating aircraft, whether on the ground or in-flight, is strictly prohibited under Section 21 of the Civil Aviation Order (CAO) 2006 as its use poses a great threat to the safety and security of the aircraft, passengers and crew onboard.

Department of Civil Aviation Acting Director Haji Mohammad Azlan bin Haji Mohammad Junaidi and Royal Brunei Police Force Criminal Investigation Department Acting Director Senior Superintendent of Police Sulaiman bin Alidin at the press conference. PHOTO: IZAH AZAHARI

Haji Mohammad Azlan explained that a laser beam can fill the entire cockpit from thousands of feet away.

“The laser beam may appear small and harmless, with a low deviation. However, it can cause interference from long distances, interrupt critical operations and lead to accidents. This beam can affect the pilot’s ability to concentrate in the cockpit, and cause visual disturbances and a partial loss of the eye’s ability to function. It may also lead to permanent eye damage,” he said.

“Laser attacks pose a genuine hazard to aviation safety and security and these reckless act will not be tolerated. Individuals found guilty of an offence under Section 21 of the Civil Aviation Order 2006 for using a machine, equipment or device within any area designated by the MTIC, or in any manner which may affect or interfere with the safety of civil aircraft, will be liable to a fine not exceeding BND50,000 and imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or both,” Haji Mohammad Azlan said.

Meanwhile, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Sulaiman said the actions of laser attackers are “seen as life threatening, reckless and criminal”, and called on the public to report such activities to the RBPF hotline at 993 or the nearest police station.

SSP Sulaiman also reminded the public that as law abiding citizens, it is their responsibility with knowledge and information on any criminal activity to inform and report such activities to RBPF via the 993 hotline or the nearest police station. Such information will facilitate the investigation and prosecution of these individuals.

“The RBPF will investigate reported laser attack incidents and work closely with relevant agencies to detect and prevent such activities,” he added.