Regulations Amending the Canadian Aviation Regulations (Designated Provisions — Projection of Directed Bright Light Source at an Aircraft): SOR/2018-134
Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 152, Number 14
June 22, 2018
P.C. 2018-850 June 21, 2018
Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Transport, pursuant to paragraphs 7.6(1)(a) footnote a and (b) footnote b of the Aeronautics Act footnote c, makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Canadian Aviation Regulations (Designated Provisions — Projection of Directed Bright Light Source at an Aircraft).
Regulations Amending the Canadian Aviation Regulations (Designated Provisions — Projection of Directed Bright Light Source at an Aircraft)
1 Subpart 1 of Part VI of Schedule II to Subpart 3 of Part I of the Canadian Aviation Regulations footnote 1 is amended by adding the following after the reference “Section 601.15”:
Coming into Force
2 These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
Laser footnote 2 attacks on aircraft pose a serious safety risk to crew members and passengers. The current enforcement tools available for the prosecution of an offence under section 601.20 (Projection of Directed Bright Light Source at an Aircraft) and subsection 601.21(1) (Requirement for Notification) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) do not act as a sufficient deterrent or enable timely enforcement actions for laser attack offences.
Laser pointers are prevalent and available throughout Canada. Even a basic laser pointer can be used, illegally, to attack aircraft flight crew — a laser attack can cause distraction, disorientation and discomfort for the flight crew and can result in high-risk safety situations during critical phases of flight (e.g. takeoff and landing). In addition to the disruption of a laser attack, laser beams can cause instant and permanent damage to the retina of the eye, even at distances of over 10 km. There have been 1 496 reported laser attacks in Canadian airspace from 2015–2017; in 2017, there were 379 reported laser attacks on airlines in Canadian airspace.
In response to the growing incidence of laser attacks on aircraft, Transport Canada (TC) established a public awareness and education campaign called “It’s Not a Bright Idea” in 2016. Information concerning the responsible use of lasers and the high risks associated with directing laser beams at aircraft was made available through the TC website, social media and radio and television advertisements. Although the incidence of laser attacks decreased following introduction of the campaign, from 590 in 2015 to 379 in 2017 (a decrease of 35.8%), a significant safety risk persists.
Currently, laser attacks on aircraft can be prosecuted by summary conviction or by indictment under the Aeronautics Act, by summary conviction under the CARs, and under the Criminal Code as an indictable offence as follows:
- Section 7.41 of the Aeronautics Act makes it an offence to engage in any behaviour that endangers the safety or security of an aircraft in flight or of persons on board an aircraft in flight by intentionally interfering with the performance of the duties of any crew member or lessening the ability of a crew member to perform that crew member’s duties. The pointing of a laser into an aircraft cockpit could be prosecuted as an indictable offence under this provision and upon conviction, an individual could be charged a fine of $100,000, imprisonment up to five years, or both; and on summary conviction, a fine of $25,000, imprisonment of up to 18 months, or both. However, intent must be demonstrated.
- The projection of bright lights into airspace is prohibited under section 601.20 of the CARs. As well, the failure of a person or corporation to provide a written request and obtain written authorization from the Minister to project a directed bright light source into navigable airspace is an offence under subsection 601.21(1) of the CARs.
- The enforcement of these two regulatory offences must be carried out by way of summary conviction under subsection 7.3(3) of the Act with a maximum fine of $5,000.
- Under the Criminal Code (e.g. section 430 “Mischief”), an offender could be charged for a laser attack.
Enforcement of laser attack offences has proven to be challenging given the difficulty in obtaining evidence, i.e. locating and identifying a perpetrator, the burden of proof required for a summary conviction, and the lengthy court process for prosecution.
The objective of the Regulations Amending the Canadian Aviation Regulations (Designated Provisions – Projection of Directed Bright Light Source at an Aircraft) [the amendments] is to reduce the number of laser attacks on aircraft and to enhance the safety of crew members, passengers and air travel by creating an effective, more timely deterrent to laser attacks and to enable immediate enforcement measures for offences.
These amendments designate offences under section 601.20 and subsection 601.21(1) of the CARs, to enable the issuance of administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) for enforcement purposes, up to a maximum of $5,000 for an individual and $25,000 for a corporation.
The designation of offences to enable the use of AMPs changes only the enforcement mechanism to address an urgent public safety issue, and does not introduce any new regulatory requirements to the CARs. Formal public consultations were therefore not undertaken. TC officials have met with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Canadian Airport Police Commanders Association, and Crime Stoppers to look to ways to focus law enforcement efforts on detection, prevention and enforcement of laser attacks.
Over several years, aviation industry stakeholders have requested that the Minister take immediate action to address the high safety risks associated with laser attacks on aircraft.
In spring 2018, TC engaged with aviation stakeholders by way of a teleconference call to discuss the proposed designation of these offences for AMPs; they were supportive and no objections were raised.
The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply, as the amendments do not result in any administrative burden costs for business.
Small business lens
The small business lens does not apply, as the amendments do not result in any costs for small business.
Due to the high number of incidents of laser attacks on aircraft and the associated high safety risk to crew members and passengers, TC is taking action through this regulatory amendment to provide a more effective deterrent and to enable immediate enforcement measures for offences.
The amendments provide authorities with a nimbler enforcement tool, to more quickly penalize those who project lasers into airspace, and TC anticipates that this enhanced deterrence will reduce the number of laser attacks on aircraft; reducing the associated risks for crew members and passengers. This amendment does not result in any impact on law-abiding stakeholders. As well, persons planning to project a directed bright light source into navigable airspace continue to be able to seek the authorization to do so from the Minister by written request.
Implementation and enforcement
The designation of these provisions in the CARs enables immediate enforcement for laser attack offences through the issuance of AMPs. An individual or corporation that has been served with or sent a notice for an offence under section 601.20 or subsection 601.21(1) must pay the amount of the AMP or file a written request with the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada (TATC) for review. This administrative review process ensures that each case is reviewed by a panel of aviation officials and experts.
A person or corporation served with or sent a notice of a contravention of a designated provision may file a written request with the TATC to have the facts of the alleged contravention or the amount of the AMP reviewed. If no written request is made requesting a review by TATC, then the AMP for contravening the designated regulatory provision is payable in accordance with the requirements set out in the notice.
Proceeding through an administrative process for offences under these sections rather than through the prosecution process for summary conviction under the CARs reduces the burden on the Canadian justice system.
By designating offences under section 601.20 and subsection 601.21(1) of the CARs under the AMPs regime, prosecution by way of summary conviction is no longer available as an enforcement tool for offences under these sections. The Crown could still charge an offender under section 430 of the Criminal Code for the same event, and prosecution under subsection 7.41(1) of the Act continues to be available, as this provision is broader in scope and includes anything that would endanger aviation safety.
TC is engaging in proactive outreach and communications through public announcements, the TC website, social media and advertising to inform and educate industry, stakeholders and Canadians about the amendments, the change in enforcement activities, and to highlight the safety risks and consequences of laser attacks.
The amendments come into force on the day on which the amending regulations are registered.
Chief, Regulatory Affairs (AARBH)
Policy and Regulatory Services
Civil Aviation, Safety and Security Group
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Telephone: 613-993-7284 or 1-800-305-2059