Light & Laser Blog Blog

Light & Laser Blog

The Laser & Light Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about optoelectronics, fiber optics, lasers, light sources, optics, imaging, electro-optics, and anything else related to the photonics industry. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Previous in Blog: How to Protect Pilots from Lasers   Next in Blog: Space Bacteria — Do We Have Company in the Universe
Close
Close
Close
29 comments

Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

Posted February 16, 2011 7:51 AM

Shining lasers at aircraft appears to be the new sport, judging by the nine-fold increase in incidences in the last five years. Pilots have already suffered eye damage. The worst-case scenario, a crash, has yet to happen, but the message that this is dangerous just doesn't seem to get through to people. Legislation exists mandating fines or even five-year prison terms for violators, but it doesn't seem to stop them. Why do people think this is fun, and how do we get the message across to them just how risky this type of prank is?

The preceding article is a "sneak peek" from Light & Laser, a newsletter from GlobalSpec. To stay up-to-date and informed on industry trends, products, and technologies, subscribe to Light & Laser today.

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".
4
Guru
Engineering Fields - Optical Engineering - Member Engineering Fields - Engineering Physics - Member Engineering Fields - Systems Engineering - Member

Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Trantor
Posts: 5363
Good Answers: 646
#1

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/16/2011 9:37 AM

This was discussed over the past couple of days on a different CR4 thread.

http://cr4.globalspec.com/blogentry/15919#comment693861

The link above that says 'pilots have already suffered eye damage' points to a news story where the claim of eye damage seems bogus. In the main story the pilots have already been cleared to resume their duties, and in a secondary referenced story no charges were filed over the alleged eye damage.

I worked with lasers for a number of years and I am aware of the dangers. Here is what I said on the previous thread (and I don't see any reason to revise what I said):

The green laser pointer is by far the main offender, and it's wavelength is precisely known: 532 nanometers. It's the main problem for these reasons:

1. The wavelength is near the peak response (555 nm) of the human visual system, so the beam from a 5 mW green laser pointer appears much, much brighter (~ 50 times) than the beam from an equivalent-power red laser pointer.

2. The 532 nm beam quenches the rhodopsin (visual purple) in the retina in the eye that helps the eye to see at night. Once the rhodopsin is quenched it takes about 20 minutes for it to come back. (Which is why it takes a person about 20 minutes to become dark-adapted.) The red laser pointer is typically 635 nm and does not quench the visual purple. (That's why red lighting was used for many years for cockpit lighting for nighttime flying.)

3. The green laser beam back-scatters much more due to fine dust and water vapor in the atmosphere (rayleigh scattering) so the user can see the beam much better than the beam from a red laser pointer which has far less back-scatter -- which is why people have the urge to flash them around at night. You can see the green beam better, so it's easier (and more fun) to point it at something, like a star or an airplane.

While it may be possible to do some actual eye damage with an extremely intense green laser pointer, perhaps if it were aimed directly at one spot on the retina, the 532 nm wavelength itself is not unusually harmful like an (invisible) Ultraviolet beam which packs more energy or an (invisible) Infrared beam that might burn a spot on the retina. I think the natural "blink response", along with the automatic muscle twitching that takes place in the eye continuously, would prevent a pilot from sustaining real eye damage from a green laser pointer beam.

I think point #2 above is the main concern; that a pilot can be temporarily distracted and have his night vision impaired.

__________________
Whiskey, women -- and astrophysics. Because sometimes a problem can't be solved with just whiskey and women.
Reply Good Answer (Score 4)
Guru
Hobbies - Fishing - New Member

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Raleigh, NC USA
Posts: 13529
Good Answers: 467
#2
In reply to #1

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/16/2011 3:10 PM

GA Usb.

Am I missing something? When I look at an airliner it seems to me that it would be difficult to even hit the front window from the ground with a laser, much less cause eye damage to the pilots.

__________________
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Ben Franklin
Reply
Guru
Safety - ESD - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - Amateur Astronomer Technical Fields - Technical Writing - Writer India - Member - Regular CR4 participant Engineering Fields - Optical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: 18 29 N 73 57E
Posts: 1387
Good Answers: 31
#3
In reply to #1

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/16/2011 11:27 PM

GA USB.

I would like to add few more points:

Firstly the laser being pointed to air plane, will be hand held. Thus pointing precisely towards pilot's eye is just impossible (neglecting other point of next post that cockpit window will bot be so easily accessible from ground). At the saem time, the aeroplane is moving. Thus it is practically impossible to point the laser to pilot's ratina for more than 0.3 seconds, which may be needed to damage of the eye.

Besides, other point is also equally important. Eye has its own mechanism to protect itself, shutting the eye lids, which happens instantaneously one some visble glare is there. That is more true for green, than any other UV / IR laser, which have more ability to damage the eye and eye has no capability to know it.

Just try looking towards Sun at midday, you will understand what I say... you will not be able to see the Sun. Eye closes automatically.

So the distraction of pilot is the main issue, not the damage of eye.

Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Manufacturing Engineering - Hobbies - Musician - Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - Popular Science - Weaponology -

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Eden
Posts: 1432
Good Answers: 39
#16
In reply to #1

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/17/2011 2:43 PM

"(That's why red lighting was used for many years for cockpit lighting for nighttime flying.)"

This is an interesting point, usbport. Care to elaborate on this subject? Is red lighting no longer used? I know that in the Army we used red lighting all the time to accustom our eyes to darkness quicker. Has there been some change in this philosophy?

Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Optical Engineering - Member Engineering Fields - Engineering Physics - Member Engineering Fields - Systems Engineering - Member

Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Trantor
Posts: 5363
Good Answers: 646
#18
In reply to #16

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/17/2011 4:30 PM

Since the mid-80s most USAF and NAVY fighter aircraft have specified cockpits compatible with 3rd generation night vision goggles which are extremely sensitive to far red and infrared energy. To make the cockpit nighttime lighting compatible, green or blue-green lighting has been used for switches, illuminated legends, etc. Electronic displays are filtered so as not to emit light that would affect the goggles. Many of the cargo planes are similarly designed for NVG use, such as the C-130 and C-17. The lighting is kept dim to minimize its effect dark adaptation.

Some Army aircraft are also designed this way, such as the Apache.

There may be some stand-by or get-home gauges that still use red lighting, but are turned off when the NVGs are being used.

__________________
Whiskey, women -- and astrophysics. Because sometimes a problem can't be solved with just whiskey and women.
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 859
Good Answers: 33
#28
In reply to #1

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

04/02/2011 12:10 AM

Fascinating explanation--Thank you! I spoke at length, with an electronics person who seemed to be very versed on this subject. His main points were that there are new laser technologies, in various spectrums, being developed, that would be VERY dangerous, if used by the general public. Do you have any other support to that suggestion? Thanks again for your valuable input. (I haven't a clue, but I do try to learn)

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Columbia City, Indiana, USA
Posts: 832
Good Answers: 96
#4

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/17/2011 12:43 AM

Hi Folks,

This was in some episode of CIS or NCIS of one of those types of shows about a year ago ... someone playing with a green laser who caused blindness of the pilot, and subsequently the crash of the aircraft.

While I know the dangers of the laser to the eye (and know a lot more now that I read some of these answers), from the television episode I first saw this on, and agreeing with some of the other comments here, it is difficult for me to see how anyone can actually shine a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft in flight. Mind you, I am not saying that such pranks are the best of leisure activities, but it really seems very unlikely tha that some real damage could be caused.

Just my two cents ... now worth much less after taxes and inflation .

Kind regards ...

__________________
"Just when I had all the answers, they changed all the questions"
Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Manufacturing Engineering - Hobbies - Musician - Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - Popular Science - Weaponology -

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Eden
Posts: 1432
Good Answers: 39
#5

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/17/2011 1:54 AM

The lasers in question are not the typical hand-held laser "pointers" that we use during a power-point presentation. All that was said in the other comments is true, and basically the "pointers" are not a true danger... which corresponds to what y'all are implying.

I wish I could be specific about which types of lasers are the actual culprits of some of the actually dangerous incidents at airports this past year, but I don't recall for sure. It's some type of police model, or military model, or industrial model. Difficult to get, but not impossible. Something like a surveyors tool.

As far as the angle needed to point into a cockpit window, many of the problems occur from within high rise buildings near the runway; and they occur as the plane is in the process of landing. Not when it is far above. This makes it all the more dangerous.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Chicago
Posts: 3989
Good Answers: 144
#8
In reply to #5

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/17/2011 8:58 AM

Are you suggesting that there are a group of organized individuals specifically using high powered lasers from specific vantage points at airports to threaten the safety of air travel?

Or do you suggest this is just a coincidence .. They are not organized, and they are just owners of such high end equipment who have access to buildings and hotels near the airport and a strong urge to needlessly shine lasers towards pilots?..

The difference is between organized terrorism and ... disorganized coincidental terrorism?!

Q: Wouldn't we be able to see what building these lasers are shining out out? It seems a simple task of looking in that direction and reviewing video.

...Or are you suggesting these people are also masters of the covert and are skilled at getting themselves and their laser equipment into such vantage points.. at night.. without permission or detection.??. Just so they can shine their laser at a landing aircraft for a bit before packing it all up and disappearing without a trace?

What would be the point?!

...I have to say it sounds far fetched..

elaborate.. please!

__________________
High Tolerance is Beautiful
Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Manufacturing Engineering - Hobbies - Musician - Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - Popular Science - Weaponology -

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Eden
Posts: 1432
Good Answers: 39
#9
In reply to #8

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/17/2011 12:52 PM

There is nothing covert about it, that is beyond the ability of a mischievous teenager. As I said, these lasers are not that difficult to get. They are simply a step above a hand-held pointer. No need to go all anti-conspiracy theory on me.

No organisation... just kids. I never implied there is some grand scheme. Teenagers do, what teenagers do, before their brains catch up to their good sense. What would be the point, you ask? Well if you figure out why they do what they do... you might make some money. Possibly... because they can? Or... maybe just to achieve that stupid laugh among their peers, that they get when smashing a watermelon on the windshield of a moving car? Who knows.

And no, there is no task force on the ready, to go out and track down the source of every occurrence. Keep in mind how many thousands of flights are happening every single day in hundreds of cities. No body is filming every landing plane in the world. So I don't know what video you are referring to. And their access point doesn't need to be a tall building. It could simply be high ground near an airport. These things don't happen in every single airport. Some are geographically, topographically and physically more prone to these types of pranks.

Not a big mystery here. Nothing that fetched... much less, far-fetched, about it.

Reply
Commentator

Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 83
Good Answers: 2
#29
In reply to #8

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

04/02/2011 12:47 PM

recently a 737 was grounded at charlotte-douglas because the sharp-eyed pilot spotted a bullet hole on his walk-around. Sure enough, when the FBI arrived, they found a spent bullet inside the skin of the plane. Was this from some fellow shooting a small-gauge rifle at a flushed quail or some asshole in a field near the airport out to shoot rats and voles and felt moved to take a potshot at the plane as it was taking off or landing? I expect that our odds of finding bin laden or the anthrax killer or OJ's "real killers" are higher than finding that person or his rifle. Kids can buy lasers several orders of power greater than pointers from a scientific catalog. A lot of kids with more money than brains (even a practically broke kid usually has more money than brains) or an interest in lighting effects, laser light shows, or whatever, could station themselves in the approach path of a jet of virtually any kind. I worked at a high rise office tower whose roof was regularly leaf-blown by the engines of passenger jets. It's not out of the question for one or more kids with lasers to station themselves on city rooftops, or asphalt beaches as they were known in my youth, or top floor apartments on walk-ups. Break in, set up the lasers, light up a few planes, then vamoose. Kids could do it, terrorists could do it, people shorting airline stock could do it.

Reply
Commentator

Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 59
Good Answers: 2
#6

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/17/2011 5:02 AM

Here's a few random thoughts on the matter from someone with no technical knowledge of the matter whatsoever, perhaps it can fuel discussion and someone who knows more on each point can give better information...

1. When scientist are working in laser labs, they are all wearing orange safety glasses. I understand these are designed to absorb the most dangerous wavelength lasers. If pilot safety is a genuine concern from this sort of attack, why don't they coat the cockpit windows with the same material? Yes, I know - cost, time downtime etc etc. But what's the cost and downtime of a crashed plane and 300 souls?

2. Finding the "shooter" if a plane is lased going to be very difficult. It will be unexpected (no tracking radar lock warning) and last only a second or two. Sure, you have a nice bright green line showing you exactly where they are, couldn't ask for more, but at 1000km/hr it's only so helpful. Could the hype be to make people think it is much more dangerous than it actually is, in the hope that morality may stop some people from doing it? Looks like the hype has backfired and we have found out that human morality is pretty sick when you can do something really "fun" like this. I believe there was a case in Sydney a few years back where a police helicopter was lased, their camera was running at the time so they were able to play the footage back and could determine exactly which window of which house it was coming from (nice bright green line!). Planes are not going to have this footage, and it was pure luck that the camera was pointing in the right direction at the time.

3. If very low power devices like this are so dangerous, why haven't terrorists (or any military for that matter) developed a high-power laser on a tracking system so it follows the cockpit of the plane and lights it up like a sunrise? It would be as cheap if not cheaper than a rocket launcher, small, portable, reusable, no ammo required - just power that can be obtained anywhere.

< / rant >

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: South of Minot North Dakota
Posts: 8378
Good Answers: 774
#7

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/17/2011 7:37 AM

There seems to be this general myth that these little hand held laser pointers have a perfectly strait and narrow beam that goes out forever without spreading. They don't. Even the high end ones have considerable beam scatter and spread when run out over distances of miles or more.

With most pointers that 5 mw 1/16" diameter light point turns into a house sized beam at a few miles distance and even the high end ones are cating a beam several feet in diameter at those distances.

Try it some time and see. Have someone point one down a strait road at night and drive out a mile or two from them and see how wide that beam is!

Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 323
Good Answers: 2
#10
In reply to #7

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/17/2011 1:05 PM

Hi tcmtech, What you said is true, but here in England the youths use these green lasers very near the airports, and they target airplanes that are either taking off or landing, causing many near misshaps!

Xanasax

Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Manufacturing Engineering - Hobbies - Musician - Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - Popular Science - Weaponology -

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Eden
Posts: 1432
Good Answers: 39
#11

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/17/2011 1:08 PM

So to get back to the original question... no, a common hand-held laser pointer could almost certainly not bring down an aircraft. But a distraction is a distraction. So anything is possible.

On the other hand, yes, there are slightly more professional/industrial models of lasers, that are reasonably available, that could potentially distract a pilot at some crucial moment in time, as he is about to land a plane, to the extent that he could make some critical error during that landing, and cause an accident. This could happen if the laser shooter happened to be lucky enough to aim directly in the pilots eye. Unlikely but surely possible. It's not a matter of blinding eye damage; it's more a matter of major distraction... like a flashlight aimed in the face. And if the aim is not right on the eyeball... the simple fact of a laser light unexpectedly appearing in the cockpit and moving all over the place, might under certain circumstances startle the pilot enough, at that crucial landing moment, that a fatal mistake may be made.

Reply
Guru
Panama - Member - New Member Hobbies - CNC - New Member Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Retired Engineers / Mentors - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Panama
Posts: 4273
Good Answers: 213
#12

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/17/2011 1:40 PM

"...the message that this is dangerous just doesn't seem to get through to people...."

Maybe just the opposite is happening- the message is getting through all too clearly to certain elements of our society..."Hey, this here news report says I can bring down a plane with my laser...wonder if it is true?"

Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Manufacturing Engineering - Hobbies - Musician - Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - Popular Science - Weaponology -

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Eden
Posts: 1432
Good Answers: 39
#13
In reply to #12

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/17/2011 1:53 PM

That is exactly what is happening. Kids hear of this amazing challenge, and want to know if they can do it. To get a laugh. But they don't have the good sense of a walnut.

Reply
Guru
Hobbies - Fishing - New Member

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Raleigh, NC USA
Posts: 13529
Good Answers: 467
#14
In reply to #13

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/17/2011 2:21 PM

I hate to admit it, but when I was a kid, out in the middle of nowhere, my friends and I used to hide in the bushes and throw tomatoes from our gardens at cars as they passed. What can I say? It was fun...................especially if someone pulled over and chased us. Tomatoes in the summer, apples in the fall, and snow balls in the winter. We were a bunch of little delinquents. I'm glad we didn't have lasers.

Not that it makes it any better, but I'm not talking freeways, just two lane roads out in the country.

If these laser pointers are truly a problem for pilots, a good start would be to stop selling them to kids, just like they did with cans of spray paint in many places.

__________________
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Ben Franklin
Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Manufacturing Engineering - Hobbies - Musician - Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - Popular Science - Weaponology -

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Eden
Posts: 1432
Good Answers: 39
#15
In reply to #14

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/17/2011 2:33 PM

Yep, with me it was rotten pumpkins. Until one night it was my turn to get the next car... I waited in the bushes with anticipation while the headlights slowly came up the small country road. There it is... throw!! Perfect hit on the windshield! At that point, the red and blue lights started flashing on the single police car that my small town had, and half of the town police force jumped out of that pumpkin'd cop car and started chasing us thru the woods. Eventually, we lost the two officers in the brambles, and that put a stop to my pumpkin throwing. The next weekend it was handfuls of grapes.

Ah, the good old days before laser beams....

Good times... good times...

Reply
Guru
Hobbies - Fishing - New Member

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Raleigh, NC USA
Posts: 13529
Good Answers: 467
#17
In reply to #15

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/17/2011 2:52 PM

Kids these days have no idea of the adrenalin rush that comes with hitting a cop car with a rotten pumpkin.

__________________
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Ben Franklin
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Chicago
Posts: 3989
Good Answers: 144
#19

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/18/2011 12:18 AM

If what I'm reading is true..? I should crash.. People should crash .. People should nearly crash.. Whenever an ambulance, firetruck, or police car drives by with it's lights flashing?

So it seems like it's a non issue..

...except for there fact that it's annoying and illegal...

and about a 4 thousand million times less dangerous than a watermelon

__________________
High Tolerance is Beautiful
Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Manufacturing Engineering - Hobbies - Musician - Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - Popular Science - Weaponology -

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Eden
Posts: 1432
Good Answers: 39
#21
In reply to #19

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/18/2011 10:53 AM

I'll be sure to give my former self, of 40 years ago, a stern talking to, about pelting police cars with fruits & veg.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Chicago
Posts: 3989
Good Answers: 144
#22
In reply to #21

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/19/2011 12:05 AM

I really don't mind the idea of a little fruit and veg.

I've seen a car battery come out of a high window near a street... not friendly..

I also remember when some kids killed a driver dropping a brick off an overpass.

A watermelon? Too dangerous.. .. and delicious..

Shine a laser at me anytime, but you had better run like the wind if you smash a watermelon on my car.

You have to realize too that most cars today would dent if you tossed a grape at them.

__________________
High Tolerance is Beautiful
Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Optical Engineering - Member Engineering Fields - Engineering Physics - Member Engineering Fields - Systems Engineering - Member

Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Trantor
Posts: 5363
Good Answers: 646
#20

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/18/2011 8:42 AM

The risk of a crash (due to a temporarily blinded pilot) can be avoided or minimized by simply implementing the latest technologies, and letting the aircraft land itself, if necessary:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wide_Area_Augmentation_System

__________________
Whiskey, women -- and astrophysics. Because sometimes a problem can't be solved with just whiskey and women.
Reply
Commentator

Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 83
Good Answers: 2
#23

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/23/2011 10:36 AM

require that a rapidly flashing code be installed in each laser pointer to identify it. Install a reader for this code in every airplane. A recording of the laser would lead you to the individual who purchased it.

a hand held laser might not be able to hit the cockpit precisely, but waving one around in what might be the vicinity of the plane (or what appears to be the vicinity of the plane) would hit the cockpit at least once and possibly several times. A person need not be blinded to be dazzled--momentarily unable to read guages, particularly in a darkened cockpit. The plane would be particularly vulnerable upon takeoff and landing when it is moving slowly and close to the ground. A laser could be trained on it from the airport parking lot, the feeder road, or anywhere along the takeoff and landing path, which you can find by looking for the strobe lights that guidie the plane in. A single laser pointer might not be enough to be dangerous, but they are now cheap enough (and given away as premiums) that you could easily accumulate a pocketful of them in different colors. Turn the lasers on, wrap the lasers with packing tape and use your car battery as the power source, so you can turn the lights on and off by plugging a cord into your cigarette lighter, or unplugging it. Same system could be used to dazzle drivers on a deserted stretch of highway, helicopter pilots on their way to or from the hospital, or cops intent on chasing you for inappropriate use of a laser device. I know that the wattage of these devices is very tiny, but if you take them apart so the lights can be packed densely in an array and put hundreds of them together into a spotlight-like device, you could probably do real damage, particularly if you have a few seconds to catch your opponent's eye. Pilots on Air Force One wear an eyepatch so that a nuclear pulse or laser won't blind both of their eyes at once, so the Air Force considers it a real threat.

Reply
Anonymous Poster
#24

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/23/2011 9:09 PM

Well there are JETS and their are small planes, its highly unlikely you could even get the right angle of incidence to enter a JETs cockpit - you cant even see the windows to the cockpit, and if you can that means the plane is probably over 5 to 7 km infront of you and about 1 to 2 km off the ground (take off or landing case).

A small plane would be easier to get into the windows but still very difficult to do either intentionally or unintentionally for any significant duration.

The issue is this though - that laser would have to be tripod mounted, you couldnt do it by hand at that distance just a .25mm movement by your hand would throw it way off. If the dimwit is going to use a tripod and track the plane then there is intent to commit a crime its not just a prank. On that basis they should be fined and suspended from posessing lasers, but locking them up is a bit stupid.

Could it crash a plane maybe on take off or landing but again its exceedingly difficult to get it right in the pilots eye. There are two pilots on jets anyway.

Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Manufacturing Engineering - Hobbies - Musician - Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - Popular Science - Weaponology -

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Eden
Posts: 1432
Good Answers: 39
#25
In reply to #24

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/23/2011 11:08 PM

I marginally agree with some points, and disagree with other points of this last questionable comment, but... "there are two pilots on jets anyway" ?? What? You're really going to go with that argument?? C'mon man... that's a pretty irresponsible and kooky thing to say, Mr. or Ms. Guest; particularly when you're talking about the potential death of up to 300+ passengers in one fell swoop.

In fact, there are a surprising number of irresponsible and kooky justifications, and short sighted lines of reasoning in this thread. Normally, CR4 discussions are a bit more intellectual. IMHO.

Reply
Guru
Safety - ESD - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - Amateur Astronomer Technical Fields - Technical Writing - Writer India - Member - Regular CR4 participant Engineering Fields - Optical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: 18 29 N 73 57E
Posts: 1387
Good Answers: 31
#27
In reply to #24

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/25/2011 12:41 AM

And plane also Tripod mounted! (yes i am serious)

Reply
Participant

Join Date: May 2009
Location: Kalispell, MT
Posts: 3
#26

Re: Could a Laser Pointer Down an Aircraft?

02/24/2011 2:00 AM

Being a pilot AND a laser enthusiast, a laser pointer will not 'down' an aircraft. The majority of irresponsible laser operators are teenagers. Most of them will have access to only 5mw lasers, and even a 200mw laser, while being fairly powerful, is only an annoyance in the cockpit. Also, with an aircraft being 200 feet over the ground, the predominant angle will be from below fairly steeply, so, especially in a commercial aircraft, the beam will not even be at a direct angle to the pilot's eyes, and with the narrowness of the beam, the pilot once aware of the issue will have no problem avoiding beam even with multiple sweeps of the beam. While I think it is irresponsible for the laser operator, it is not much of a safety issue, and with the steep legal ramifications if you get caught, the rate of illuminations will decrease over time. I think lasing drivers on a freeway would be a greater concern. With 1 watt and greater lasers avaiable, most of the offenders will blind themselves before they do any public damage. Any pilot who allows themselves to be distracted by being lased should not be responsible for the lives of their passengers-landing in a lightning storm is more of a challenge..

__________________
....Making a strafing run on life - - - We Build Ideas.....
Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 29 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Anonymous Poster (1); C-Mac (1); Critcho (1); cwarner7_11 (1); DCaD (1); gsuhas (2); JE in Chicago (3); kramarat (3); Out of Box Experience (8); rbixby (2); tcmtech (1); Usbport (3); vondeliusc (1); xanasax (1)

Previous in Blog: How to Protect Pilots from Lasers   Next in Blog: Space Bacteria — Do We Have Company in the Universe

Advertisement