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Canada: UPDATED - Pilots suffer itching, irritation from laser strike while landing in Ottawa

Two WestJet Boeing 737 pilots suffered “minor itching and irritation” after they were illuminated by a green laser beam while landing at an Ottawa’s Macdonald Cartier International airport.

The incident occurred September 23 2014. The laser was pointed at the plane for around 2-4 minutes. Police are looking for the perpetrator.

Earlier in the month, on September 5, a Porter Airlines flight from Toronto was flashed with a green laser as it approached the Ottawa runway, according to CBC News.

A WestJet spokesperson said the pilots were cleared to fly and there was no permanent damage: “... there are real health repercussions for being exposed to a laser beam, so we do have a protocol in place where they will get checked out and there is also follow-ups.”
The WestJet flight took off from Vancouver International Airport (YVR). A RCMP officer responsible for YVR told News 1130 that the eye effects could have been worse: “Some instances, pilots are temporarily blinded or have retinal damage done where they lose their qualifications and can’t fly any more.”

Also on September 23, three flights at YVR were hit by lasers; no one was injured. RCMP officers narrowed down the laser’s location to the Steveston area, but were unable to find the perpetrator.

From News1130.com, CBC News, CTV News and 660News.com

COMMENTARY FROM LASERPOINTERSAFETY.COM: The RCMP officer is correct that, in many cases, pilots are temporarily flashblinded by the bright light. This is similar to how a camera’s flash can block vision for a few seconds or minutes.
However, LaserPointerSafety.com is unaware of any incident where U.S. FAA or U.K. CAA has confirmed a pilot’s claim of permanent retinal damage. We are further unaware of any such FAA- or CAA-reported incident where laser illumination resulted in a pilot permanently losing his or her qualification to fly.
There is the possibility that perhaps military pilots in conflict zones have been permanently injured by ground-based laser attacks. If such a case exists, it would be classified and thus unavailable to LaserPointerSafety.com. (In a 1997 incident, a U.S. military observer claimed to have retinal damage from a Russian ship’s laser. An in-depth ophthalmologic review later concluded that there were other causes for the man’s eye disorder.)

UPDATED - October 1 2014: CBC News reports that during September 2014 there were five reports of lasers being aimed at aircraft in the Ottawa area. In addition, there was an incident in the last week of September in nearby Limoges, Ontario. The Canadian president of the Air Line Pilots Association said the group supports a public information campaign, and warning labels on laser pointers. From CBC News