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Laser pointers and aircraft.

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by spoonard, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. spoonard

    spoonard Newbie
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    I am not knowledgeable about lasers (other than a typical laser pointer is used to point at something a short distance away) or aircraft really. This is an honest question. What is the significance of pointing a laser pointer at an airplane?
     

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  2. aviator

    aviator Newbie
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    A laser shot directly to the eye could blind the pilot.
     
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  3. mikedt

    mikedt 你好
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    Yup, which means it's an extremely dangerous and stupid thing to do, almost definitely illegal in any jurisdiction, and anyone caught doing it will most likely go to prison.

    BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | Probe after laser dazzles pilot
    BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | North East/N Isles | Youths, 12, 'lasered helicopter'

    http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/safety/report/laserinfo/
    "Shining a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft is a serious safety risk and violates federal law. Many high-powered lasers can completely incapacitate pilots who are trying to fly safely to their destinations and may be carrying hundreds of passengers. Unfortunately, reported incidents of lasers aimed at aircraft are steadily increasing."


    /thread
     
  4. Gmash

    Gmash Android Expert
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    I've always thought all of the news stories about this just give more dumb, bored kids the idea to do it. Who really thinks, spontaneously, "hey, I should point this laser at that plane"? It becomes a vicious cycle of news story, leading to copycats, leading to more news stories, and so on.
     
  5. TxGoat

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    Typically it's idiot kids bored with themselves. I actually bought one of the green ones (It was $10.00 and I figured what the hell) that's supposed to be visible for over a mile and I'll be damned the thing is quite a powerful laser. I actually showed my brother by pointing it at the ground on a ceramic tile floor and the reflection was so bright he commented about it being too bright (but then again he's a delicate mama's boy so go figure).

    My parents live out in the middle of nowhere and one evening during the summer we were outside in the clear night looking up at the stars. It was one of the few times (other than driving the neighbor's cat crazy) that the thing actually served a purpose. Pointing out constellations in the clear evening was real slick. Other than that, and the obvious (as demonstrated below) there's no purpose for these things.

    OMG: Cats vs. Laser Pointer - YouTube
     
  6. zuben el genub

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    This is a big concern to the astronomy community. A lot do use laser pointers (responsibly) for alignment, as finders, and for teaching purposes. These jerks that have nothing better to do are ruining a tool for amateur astronomers.
     
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  7. Bob Maxey

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    Things have changed since I spent a hundred or more for a diode pointer. Now they are dirt cheap. The problem is power. They are becoming very powerful. In the one watt range in the case of those offered by Wicked Lasers. You can set things alight from a distance.

    Interesting that WL sells a more or less conventional flashlight that can be used to set things on fire as well as cooking eggs. Not a laser, just a very strong flashlight.

    Their lasers fit in your hand and they cannot be used for anything most people use them for. No cat teasing and definitely not foe gun sights.

    The FDA is concerned and they have tried to ban these powerful hands full of wondrous light. I can see the FAA raising hell because some fools do not care about the safety of others. The government does indeed want their importation limited.
     
  8. 9to5cynic

    9to5cynic Android Expert
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    Hmmm... I didn't really consider the "let's light a match from thirty feet" lasers, but I mean, who hasn't had some idiot in high school hit them in the eye with a laser?

    I guess the way I look at it is, a) it sure seems dumb, b) it could get you in serious trouble, c) planes move fast, the cockpit is above you (likely out of view) and very high [small target] and d) could a quick unlikely glance of laser really be that bad?

    But I guess the answer is yes. Based on the stuff already posted here...

    And I agree, I never once had the idea 'hey this laser would be a blast to shoot at a plane', but now with all this talk about it ... maybe ;) :D

    No, it's dumb. The more it's reported on, seems like gmash hit it in the face with the whole copy cat thought.
     
  9. Bob Maxey

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    Forget your idea, smiley. Remember that if you are/were caught, the feds take control of your life. Apparently, some 1,100 pilots have reported incidents. And it can be costly, at $11,000.00 per incident. Not to mention, the safety of the passengers.
     
  10. 9to5cynic

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    I understand the confusion. I only used the ;) to represent sarcasm, I probably should have used either :rolleyes: or the online accepted /sarcasm.

    I don't even own a laser pointer, and would never shine one at a plane.
     
  11. onestreet

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    I actually bought a cheap BB gun from a swapmeet and it came with a built in laser. When I tried out the laser, I was surprised and amused at the distance it could reach. Kinda makes me concerned about the damage it can do to someone's eyes.
     
  12. chriscardinal

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    I used a laser pointer to "dazzle" the horrible guitar busker across the street from my office. The police were not amused. (No harm done though.)
     
  13. aviator

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    From an aviation perspective, it doesn't need to be all that powerful. Even a low power laser can cause temporary flash blindness at night - similar to getting a flash light shined in your eyes. If it happens at a critical phase of flight, like approach to landing, it can be a big problem.
     
  14. Saltine713

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    The main reason is not blinding pilots, but terrorism. Laser sights= weapons. They don't know if you are aiming a weapon at the plane.
     
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  15. Frisco

    Frisco =Luceat Lux Vestra=
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    And that's why the regulations against laser pointing at aircraft evolved to where they are now, all over the world, sad to say.
     
  16. A.Nonymous

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    Honestly, I think the risk is very overblown, but I see no problems with the law. I don't think there's a mob of rampaging people shining lights at every airplane and causing problems. You could shine a pointer at a plane in flight. Not the easiest thing in the world depending on where the plane is, but easily doable for most people. Shining that pointer on the cockpit part of the plane is more difficult. Shining it in the pilot's eye has got to be just dumb luck IMO. But if someone was able to pull it off, the more laws we have to throw at idiots like that, the better we are I think.
     
  17. RottnJP

    RottnJP Well-Known Member
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    No, go back and re-read Aviator's note. He is correct. As might be guessed from his name.

    AA weapons are not typically laser sighted.

    The issue is that night vision is easily disrupted even by "eye-safe" low-power lasers.
     
  18. RottnJP

    RottnJP Well-Known Member
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    Actually, it's pretty easy to dazzle the cockpit on approach, when it's most significant. The glass scatters it into the cockpit as well, like the chopper pilot said in the video, also making it hard to see the instruments.

    Military non-eye-safe lasers have been used to cause serious harm, and even permanent damage, to pilots' vision during the Cold War.
     
  19. Saltine713

    Saltine713 Android Enthusiast
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    How about a no to you? The Department of Defense says otherwise. That is one pilot, not the government. That is his opinion.
     
  20. RottnJP

    RottnJP Well-Known Member
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    The department of defense says otherwise? Tell you what, you go pull the open source material on AA weapons, and tell me how many laser guided weapons you find. Go ahead, I'll wait.

    At best, the terrrorism concern is a "me too" piggy-back concern. I suppose in theory some joker with a rifle could be using a laser sight to take pot shots at a plane on approach. But that's a minor issue relative to blinding a pilot at a bad time of the mission.
     
  21. Saltine713

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    Not saying they do, but that is the rule why.

    Good job blinding a pilot when:

    A: The cockpit is facing upward, so how would the laser go from the ground and into the cabin?

    B: The glass is built to reflect sun rays and ultraviolet rays. Even if the plane was pointing at a ridiculous angle to be able to have the laser reflected in the cabin, the laser would bounce off.
     
  22. RottnJP

    RottnJP Well-Known Member
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    You do realize that if a pilot has a line of sight to the ground, someone on the ground has LOS on the pilot, right? And when pilots are in proximity to the ground, they do, in fact, look at it?

    Ahh, nevermind. You think what you want, bud. No skin off my nose if you want to argue from a position of ignorance with people in the industry.

    Peace out, homz.
     
  23. Bob Maxey

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    Why not just understand that the law is what it is and regardless of how unlikely it might be to cause damage, and forgetting that most people commenting are not pilots and therefore are talking out of their hat and how about just resisting the urge to try?

    Seems reasonable to me.

    I do not know either way. I know my little cheap laser pointer will likely do no harm but I refuse to put peoples' lives in jeopardy just to get my coherent light beam on.
     
  24. Saltine713

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    See the funny thing is, they don't. If they are flying at a 0 degree angle or even anything less than 45 degrees, they will not see the ground directly in front or below them. And like I said, the glass would absorb the laser.

    People in the industry? Right, tell me what you do? I only help design, test, and manufacture airplanes at Lockheed Martin, so I'm sure I know nothing about this ;)
     

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