LONDON – On October 25, an Ornge Ottawa based air ambulance helicopter was struck by blue and green lasers while transporting a patient.
During departure from an on-scene response in Alfred, a blue laser was directed at the AW319 helicopter multiple times. At the time of the incident, the aircraft and crew were departing the scene with a patient onboard.
Video of the occurrence was captured and the laser can clearly be seen to be targeting the aircraft. Despite the attack, the transport was managed to be completed without delay.
In a statement, Ornge have advised that a report has been filed with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) for investigation and a Direct Bright Illumination Report has been filed with Transport Canada.
Following the strike by a blue laser on the aircraft’s departure, a further laser strike was encountered as they made an approach to the hospital. Ornge stated the following:
While descending and approaching an Ottawa area hospital with the same patient, the aircraft was struck a second time by a green laser on the pilot side of the helicopter. The laser was reported as originating from an area on the East side of Central Experimental Farm, near Ottawa Civic Hospital.
Arrivals and departures are critical phases of flight for the flight crew and require complete focus. Any distractions or injuries put the crew, patients and aircraft at risk.
Pointing lasers at aircraft can:
- Distract pilots
- Cause temporary or permanent blindness
- Create a glare in the cockpit affecting pilot vision
- Cause further injury to Ornge patients
- Distract or injure Ornge paramedics
Under the Aeronautics Act, if an individual is convicted of pointing a laser at an aircraft, they could face up to:
- $100,000 in fines
- 5 years in prison
- Or both
A vital part of Ontario’s health care system, Ornge provides high quality air ambulance service and medical transport to people who are critically ill or injured. The air operation provides safe and timely care, transport and access to health services they need.
Ornge owns a fleet of aircraft operating out of 12 bases across Ontario. Fixed wing and rotary wing assets in the fleet include:
- 8 Pilatus Next Generation PC-12 aeroplanes
- 12 Leonardo AW-139 helicopters
Ornge has encouraged anyone who witnessed the October 25 incident to contact the Ottawa Police Service at 613-236-1222 ext. 5166 or Transport Canada. Anonymous tips can also be submitted through Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-222-8477 or at https://crimestoppers.ca/.
Anyone who witnesses lasers being pointed towards any aircraft can contact their local police or Transport Canada. For more information about the problem of laser strikes on aircraft, you can visit Laser Strike Campaign page by Transport Canada.