Ornge helicopter struck by lasers during takeoff, landing

Ornge says one of its air ambulance helicopters was struck twice by lasers during a flight taking a patient from Alfred, Ont., to Ottawa. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Ornge says one of its air ambulance helicopters was struck twice by lasers during a flight taking a patient from Alfred, Ont., to Ottawa. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada - image credit)

An air ambulance helicopter was struck twice by blue and green lasers while transporting a patient Tuesday, according to a news release issued Monday by Ornge, which operates the helicopters.

The first strike happened when the aircraft was taking off from picking up a patient in Alfred, Ont., and was hit with blue lasers multiple times.

When the helicopter was approaching an Ottawa-area hospital with the same patient it was struck again, this time by green lasers.

That second strike was reported to have originated east of the Central Experimental Farm, near The Ottawa Hospital's Civic campus.

Pointing lasers can cause temporary or permanent blindness, create glare in the cockpit that affects a pilot's vision, distract pilots and paramedics, and injure the patients on board.

The first strike was reported to the Ontario Provincial Police and the second to the Ottawa Police Service.

"Arrivals and departures are critical phases of flight for the flight crew and require complete focus," the release said.

"Any distractions or injuries put the crew, patients and aircraft at risk."

According to the Aeronautics Act, anyone convicted of pointing a laser at an aircraft could face $100,000 in fines, five years in prison, or both.