Pilots blinded by laser, how is this possible ?

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luchtzak
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Pilots blinded by laser, how is this possible ?

Post by luchtzak » 05 Oct 2009, 22:48

Read in a newspaper a few weeks ago that 2 pilots where blinded by a laser and had to make an emergency landing, technically: how is this possible to blind the pilots and which kind of laser do they use (if possible pictures).

LX-LGX
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Re: Pilots blinded by laser, how is this possible ?

Post by LX-LGX » 06 Oct 2009, 00:23

Just two very recent press reports about these incidents:

On 26 Sept 2009, the Scottish Sun reported that a 19-year old youth has been arrested (only a shortwhile probably) near Glasgow, after excellent police work: the cockpit crew of a 757 reported they were blinded by a beam during final approach, and a police helicopter immediately took off and managed to trace the beam.
http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol ... n-yob.html

And on 30 Sept 2009, De Telegraaf reported that the "politierechter" (a judge for police matters) at Schiphol (= territory AMS) has fined a 19-year old youth with 150 euro for beaming with a small laser pen to a police helicopter. In this particular incident, danger was limited as it was just a cheap laser toy pen who could only damage eyes within a distance of 20 metres, while the heli was on 420 metres. However, the heli pilot not knowing this, interrupted the search. Based upon the newspaper report, the fine was because of obstruction of police work.
http://www.telegraaf.nl/binnenland/4960 ... eli__.html

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Re: Pilots blinded by laser, how is this possible ?

Post by Acid-drop » 06 Oct 2009, 00:33

It is actually not hard to buy a very powerfull laser online. It can be as small as a pen.
These lasers should be used by astro fans only to point the stars but you can be sure most of them are bought only for the fun.

I'm not sure the pilots could suffer from the beam though. it can be very dangerous (for the eyes of course) in the first 50m, but after that, the beam is getting very wide

regi
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Re: Pilots blinded by laser, how is this possible ?

Post by regi » 06 Oct 2009, 10:53

Lasers intended to blind people ( in combat ) permanently are forbidden since 1995.
But several armies developed a way around it . One example is the Dazzler.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dazzler_(weapon)

It is all about being seen, measure, counter-measure, counter-counter-measure and so on.

Did nobody wonder why the US soldiers wear en masse those sun glasses? No, not only against the sun. They are constantly harassed by youngsters who point small laser pens to them. The US soldiers learned this from their Israeli colleagues, who experienced this in the occupied territories.

Theoretically it would be fine to put a film at the inside of cockpit windows. But it has negative impact in some instances ( night vision )

Remark:
laser beam detectors are very cheap these days. Everybody makes them. But it is a military device because who else needs to know where from a laser beam comes from?
If this becomes a bigger problem, every civilian airplane might be equiped with a laser beam detector. The positive thing is that you can pinpoint in a blink of a second the source of the laser beam. Couple this to the modern GPS equipment and an automatic alarm to authorities, and you have an arrest before the culprit send an SMS to his buddies about his "heroic act" of blinding an airliner pilot.

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Re: Pilots blinded by laser, how is this possible ?

Post by teddybAIR » 06 Oct 2009, 13:47

Acid-drop,

I'm not that into these laser-point-thingies, but how can you explain that they are generally used to point at stars, but the beam widens significantly after 50m? I thought one of the primary characteristics of laserbeams was the fact that they have the ability to remain narrow for very long distances.

But then again, what the hell do I know about lasers!

Cheers,
bAIR

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Re: Pilots blinded by laser, how is this possible ?

Post by Acid-drop » 06 Oct 2009, 14:29

It's indeed one caracteristic of the laser, but nothing is perfect in this world.
They do widen:
Beam divergence measures how much the laser beam expands per meter. For example, a laser with a beam divergence of 1.0mRad will have a beam that expands 1.0mm per meter.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beam_divergence

For "toy" lasers, you have usually a value of 0.7 to 1.8mRad.
I leave you the math to see how harmless it is up in the sky. Sure it's enough to scare the pilot, maybe even blind him for half a second, but it can't be dangerous unless you are doing that stupidity when the plane is in very low altitude

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Re: Pilots blinded by laser, how is this possible ?

Post by teddybAIR » 06 Oct 2009, 14:34

Thx for the clarification Acid-drop!

Best regards,
bAIR

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Re: Pilots blinded by laser, how is this possible ?

Post by Acid-drop » 07 Oct 2009, 10:37

Again, we have journalist making a very bad job :
they are talking about laser "guns" ... what the hell is that ? Have you never seen a red laser pointer used for presentation ?

They also say it can go up to 1km. In fact, if the laser is powerfull (more power than the 5mw legal limit), and depending on the colour of the laser (green is the color you see the most, red the least), you could see it much further. But seeing it does not mean it's dangerous. Nobody was ever harmed in a dance club ...

flightlover
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Re: Pilots blinded by laser, how is this possible ?

Post by flightlover » 07 Oct 2009, 12:34

I can remember 2 cases of permanent vision damage earlier this year @ tomorowland in Boom (Belgium). I think it happend with a class 3 laser. So why wouldn't it be possible with a laser to, at least for a moment, blind a pilot with it. Do it at just the wright moment and who knows what can happen.

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Re: Pilots blinded by laser, how is this possible ?

Post by smokejumper » 07 Oct 2009, 15:16

About 20 years ago, a USAF EC-135 pilot was blinded for several days (I beleive he eventually fully recovered) by a laser fired by a Soviet Navy ship. The co-pilot assumed the duties and the plane landed safely, but imagine if the situation involved a single pilot plane.

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Re: Pilots blinded by laser, how is this possible ?

Post by Acid-drop » 08 Oct 2009, 09:12

So why wouldn't it be possible with a laser to, at least for a moment, blind a pilot with it. Do it at just the wright moment and who knows what can happen.
I'm sure it's possible, and that's probably why the police over reacted. Prevention is good.

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sn26567
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Re: Pilots blinded by laser, how is this possible ?

Post by sn26567 » 19 Jun 2014, 21:22

Another accident (The Aviation Herald does not consider this as an incident) in which a pilot had an eye injury:

US Airways A321 near Los Angeles on Jun 18th 2014, laser beam injures pilot

A US Airways Airbus A321-200, registration N544UW performing flight US-674 (dep Jun 17th) from Phoenix,AZ to Los Angeles,CA (USA), was on approach to Los Angeles' runway 06R over Santa Monica,CA (USA) at about 8000 feet when the cockpit was hit by a green laser causing an eye injury to one of the pilots. The aircraft continued for a safe landing on runway 06R about 12 minutes later.

The FAA reported the aircraft was inbound to Los Angeles near Santa Monica when the cockpit was struck by a green laser. One of the pilots received an eye injury.

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/AWE6 ... /KPHX/KLAX
http://avherald.com/h?article=47617f68&opt=0
André
ex Sabena #26567

Stij
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Re: Pilots blinded by laser, how is this possible ?

Post by Stij » 19 Jun 2014, 22:26

Last month, when on approach during the evening into Cairo, there were at least 5 lasers pointed at the aircraft... Or there were a lot of discotheques with green lasers outisde...

Cheers,

Stij

andorra-airport
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Re: Pilots blinded by laser, how is this possible ?

Post by andorra-airport » 20 Jun 2014, 09:31

Stij wrote:Last month, when on approach during the evening into Cairo, there were at least 5 lasers pointed at the aircraft... Or there were a lot of discotheques with green lasers outisde...


"Cairo Airport in Egypt appears to be a particular problem, with one Boeing 767 carrying up to 250 Britons was hit “in excess of 100 times” by a green laser" (express.co.uk)

"hundreds (!) of green laser pointers on an Egyptian chopper" (see 00:20) http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=d7b_1372788269

AF036
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Re: Pilots blinded by laser, how is this possible ?

Post by AF036 » 20 Jun 2014, 10:42

I fly at night, I can assure you, I see laser attacks almost on every flight even at high altitude!
At night we fly with dimmed lighting in the cockpit in order to be able to see outside. Our eyes are in a night vision state, every bright light blinds you very easily.
A bright light like a laser always attract your attention, (it could be another airplane lights).
And if you want to report to ATC and the authorities about every attacks, it's about 20 minutes paperwork!!
My last attack was comming out of Ninove while on descent for BRU 25R from the south. Very bright and constantly pointing at us, I wonder how the hell they manage to follow us being so stable!
There is a trick to fool them by momentarily switching all the exterior lights off. It works because you disappear and they find another target.

Brgds

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