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Aviation Safety and the Laser Problem

On Behalf of | Dec 11, 2015 | Aviation Accidents

The aviation industry faces many hazards that must be overcome to prevent accidents. Most of those hazards can be addressed with proper training and equipment. One hazard has proven more difficult to control, however. The proliferation of cheap, handheld lasers has created a problem that the Federal Aviation Administration and pilot associations have been unable to resolve. When someone points one of these $5 lasers at a flying aircraft, the tiny beam of light can expand into a blinding flash that is multiple feet wide in the cockpit. While the government and safety officials have struggled to find answers, there may now be a technological solution. Airbus has worked with Lamda Guard to create a treatment for cockpit windows intended to protect pilots from laser lights.

The film that is placed on the cockpit windows is designed to block the type of light (532 nanometer) most commonly cited by pilots. Testing is already underway to determine if the film will harm pilots’ ability to see or be comfortable during flights. The film is not ready for widespread use yet, but it represents a possible solution more likely to be effective than simply asking offenders to stop. 

Laser attacks have been the subject of informational campaigns and legislative action. In 2012, it became a federal crime to point a laser at an airplane. The crime is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. If the laser attack was done with the intent of endangering the pilot, the perpetrator can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. Despite the harsh penalties, laser attacks have increased sharply from 2,837 in 2010 to 5,352 this year as of October 16.

Source: Epoch Times, “Airbus Designs Solution to Combat Airplane Laser Attacks,” by Bowen Xiao, 4 December 2015