WestJet Pilots Exposed to Laser While Landing in Ottawa

WestJet Airlines has confirmed that two of its pilots received medical treatment after a blinding laser was recurrently exposed to them directly into their eyes while preparing to land a 737 airliner at the Ottawa airport. The incident took place on Sept. 23, when the inbound Vancouver flight descended from 19,000 feet to 6,000 feet on an approach for runway 25.

Transport Canada reported on Monday that a green laser beam was launched directly from below the aircraft and illuminated the flight deck for about four minutes. The report issued by Transport Canada mentioned that “the captain and first officer both looked directly into the beam,” adding that “the captain is experiencing a slight burning sensation to his left eye. First officer has no symptoms at this time. Both pilots have decided to seek medical treatment.”

Whereas on the other hand, WestJet mentioned in a statement issued on Tuesday that both pilots complained about itching and discomfort, after which they were checked at a nearby hospital and cleared to fly. WestJet spokeswoman, Brie Thorsteinson Ogle, stated that “our concern is from and (occupational health and safety) perspective — everyone has a right to a safe working environment,” adding that “the fact that some prankster thinks it is clever to shine a laser that could easily cause injury or serious damage to a person’s eyes is just plain foolish.” Ogle alleged that “clearly, they don’t understand that what they’re doing is not a joke — it’s potentially quite harmful to the person exposed. Whenever we do experience a laser strike, it is fully reported in the hopes that the person involved will be caught and prosecuted.”

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