Nepal | May 27, 2020

Laser emitters target Nepal Airlines plane at TIA

Rajan Pokhrel
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KATHMANDU:  The country’s sole international airport has faced the first instance of lasers aimed at one of the Nepal Airlines aircraft when the NAC pilots were conducting a final approach to the Tribhuvan International Airport.

According to an official at the air traffic control tower, green lasers targeted the 9N-AKW flight from the vicinity of Koteshwor-Jadibuti area on Friday evening.

The incident occurred when an Airbus 320 returning from Bangkok with 142 passengers on board was preparing to land at the TIA at around 7:30 pm, he said. “It’s the first reported instance of lasers aimed at aircraft at TIA,” the senior ATC officer added.

The narrow-body jet was piloted by Captain Deepu Raj Jwarchan when the laser pointers were directed at NAC’s plane, a source at the national flag carrier claimed.

Pilots considered the incident as a serious risk to air safety saying that the laser beams could cause temporary loss of vision. Pointing a laser at an aircraft could result into a momentary flash-blindness induced incapacitation of the flight crew while performing critical manoeuvres such as landings and take-offs where visual acuity is essential and could endanger the safety of flight, NAC’s Senior Captain Vijay Lama said.

Laser emitters pose a significant threat to civil aviation safety and security as they may force pilots to abort landings/take-offs, degrade pilot‘s performance, crew coordination and air traffic control service provision, according to a document prepared by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

The UN aviation agency also suggests that adequate steps shall be taken to prevent emission of laser beams from adversely affecting flight.

Most of the ICAO Contracting States also consider taking legal action against offenders under the criminal law to minimise the threat posed by intentional laser illumination.

The issue has already been taken up to the TIA and the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, according to the Senior Captain.

“They should take this matter seriously,” he said adding that the aviation authorities must make aware the general public about the hazards to aircraft and the criminal liabilities involved for endangering flight safety.

Though Captain Jwarchan officially informed the authorities concerned about the incident, CAAN’s Deputy Director General Devendra KC, however, expressed his unawareness.

“I have no idea about such incident,” the CAAN’s spokesperson told this daily.


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