Australian Planes Targeted in Laser Attacks

Australian terror experts are investigating a series of recent laser-pointer attacks on airplanes after several reportedly linked incidents to determine whether they were carried out by an organized group, reports showed.

The laser pointers, which easily can be found and bought online, vary in color, price and range, with some able to project their beams at objects miles away.

Government officials also are considering a ban on the lasers after pilots of six planes made emergency complaints of the distracting light being shone into the cockpits and had to alter their flight paths into Sydney when they were targeted in a "cluster attack" last Friday.

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The planes changed their flight paths into Kingsford Smith airport after pilots were targeted by four green lasers around 10:30 p.m. local time.

Authorities said it was a co-ordinated attack lasting 15 minutes.

The laser beams appeared to have originated from the Bexley area in southwestern Sydney.
The attack was described by an Air Services Australia spokesman as "the worst attack in our experience."

NSW Police Minister David Campbell on Sunday said he was considering a ban on the laser pointers.

"There are some penalties that police can impose now, but we're looking to make these items a prohibited weapon in certain circumstances which would lead to substantial fines and possible jail terms," he said on Macquarie Radio.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority supported the ban, saying it would bring NSW into line with other states.

CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said laser attacks on pilots were increasing in number, with five to six reported in Australia each week.

"Western Australia only announced in the last couple of weeks that they were going to make it a prohibited weapon, Victoria has already done that," Gibson said.

"Progressively, the law is cracking down on this, which is, from an aviation industry point of view, very welcome.

"I think it sends a clear message to members of the public who might be contemplating this stupid act, that not only is stupid but taken very seriously by the law," he said.