Laser beams continue to threaten Vietnam’s aviation safety

By    August 24, 2016 | 11:55 am GMT+7
Laser beams continue to threaten Vietnam’s aviation safety
Airplanes parked at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by Reuters
After Hanoi, incidents of ground-based lasers targeting aircraft have plagued Saigon's airport.

There has been a sharp rise in incidents involving lasers being shone into the cockpits of aircraft as they take off and land at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, according to aviation authorities.

Statistics show that last year there were 15 reported incidents, but already in the first half of this year, 12 incidents of people pointing laser beams at airplane cockpits have been registered.

All of the laser attacks occurred within restricted airspace, hitting aircraft as they were preparing to land from 7.30 p.m. through to midnight.

According to pilots, their cockpits have been targeted by laser beams as they were lining up on approach at about 1,300 meters.

According to the pilots, the laser beams might have come from neighboring provinces of Ho Chi Minh City, either Binh Duong or Dong Nai, about 40-45 kilometers from Tan Son Nhat airport.

Aviation authorities have taken the laser attacks seriously, saying lasers can distract and even temporarily blind pilots during critical phases of flight, such as takeoff and landing, said Tran Doan Mau, the director of the Southern Aviation Authority, which operates Tan Son Nhat airport.

He added that a hotline directly connected with the police force will be set up to handle laser attacks.

Pilots have been told to alert the control tower at Tan Son Nhat which in turn will report the incident to local police.

People found using lasers to target planes will be arrested for reckless endangerment, according to the authorities.

“To prevent the laser attacks from endangering flights, it is really important to let people know how serious this problem is,” said Mau.

Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport reported at least four cases in June of planes being targeted by laser beams. The city's police launched an investigation and found a circus using lasers during its performance was to blame.

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