Student pilot targeted in high-powered laser strikes above Wellington

Source: 1News

A student pilot was flying with an instructor when their aircraft was struck by high-powered lasers twice in the span of five minutes above Wellington.

The small two-seater plane was doing circuits in the Wellington Airport-controlled airspace, at around 10.15pm on Tuesday, when a green laser struck it twice within five minutes.

Police and the airport control tower were able to track it down to a location around Tiotio Road, Pinelands Avenue and Fettes Crescent in Strathmore, but couldn't find the culprit.

It's the second incident in the area within two days, after another small aircraft was targeted in the Wellington Airport area at around 10.45pm on Monday.

Prevention manager inspector Wade Jennings warns laser strikes against aircraft can have "potentially fatal" consequences.

"Deliberately shining a laser at any aircraft can temporarily blind the pilot and disorient them, potentially leading to them losing control of the aircraft," he said in a statement today.

"Fortunately, in both instances the aircraft were able to land safely following the laser strikes, but this could have turned out very differently."

Anyone with information on the laser strikes is urged to contact the police non-emergency line 105.

The Civil Aviation Authority is also investigating, police say.

High-powered lasers also targeted the police Eagle helicopter on its first night in Christchurch  on February 17.

Police said it was struck by lasers twice that night , including while trying to search for a victim.

The lasering of aircraft is an offence under the Crimes Act and carries a possible sentence of up to 14 years imprisonment.