Laser activity against commercial aircraft now confirmed in Canada

7 March 2008: The Northeast Intelligence Network was one of the first private intelligence sources to issue reports about unusual laser activity against passenger aircraft, having reported on such activity since 2004. The airline industry has been continuously targeted by terrorists in a variety of forms for decades, from “traditional hijackings” to using the aircraft to cause mass casualties.

Within the last few years, a disturbing trend has emerged - the use of high-powered lasers against passenger aircraft, usually on approach to an airport to blind the pilot and copilot in the cockpit with the possible intent to cause a crash. Other theories pertain to the use of lasers as sighting devices for weapons against the aircraft. The FBI and the US Department of Homeland Security have issued official memos warning of laser activity against aircraft. Excerpted from a 2005 joint FBI/JTTF memo:

“Although lasers are not proven methods of attack like improvised explosive devices and hijackings, terrorist groups overseas have expressed interest in using these devices against human sight. In certain circumstances, if laser weapons adversely affect the eyesight of both pilot and co-pilot during a non-instrument approach, there is a risk of airliner crash.”

Yesterday, Canadian officials reported that “at least 33 pilots in Canada, including some flying large commercial airliners, have complained about being flashed in the eyes by bright lights that could be lasers.”

Background/related: 3 January 2005: Airline Threats: North American Aircraft Are Under Attack By High-Powered Lasers