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Old May 08, 2012, 06:02 PM
Is my CG correct?
discostu956's Avatar
Wollongong, Aus
Joined Sep 2009
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Lasers and aircraft

Heard on the news this morning about a bloke arrested for pointing laser at police helicopter. Some big wig said it was only the skill of the pilot that kept the helo flying.

This sounded a bit far fetched to me, as I thought it was only a light source, but I don't know, so I thought I would ask on here.

What effect does shining lasers at aircraft actually have? Is it actually dangerous or affect things in some way, or was that comment overboard?
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Old May 08, 2012, 06:28 PM
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BillzillaAus's Avatar
Australia, QLD, Worongary
Joined Apr 2011
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Yes it can be, if the laser is powerful enough.
The legal limit in Aus is only 0.5 mW, which isn't very powerful but it's very easy to buy far more powerful ones. I could get a 500 mW one without too much trouble.

I've been hit by a laser when on approach onto runway 27 at Melbourne Airport and it was blinding for a brief moment and fortunately I wasn't looking directly at it and was able to look further away before my night vision was destroyed. In that case if I'd felt that I couldn't keep flying the plane I would have just handed it over to the First Officer who could have landed it for me.
The airport authorities took it very seriously and sent out some cars to look for whoever was shining the laser up as soon as we parked the plane and told them where to look.
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Old May 08, 2012, 09:26 PM
I do this for fun!
Sunshine Coast, Australia
Joined Sep 2004
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There is no such thing as an eye-safe laser. It is entirely possible to cause permanent spot-blindness or full blindness if one is shone into your eye.

This can happen at significant range, and as BillzillaAus says, there are some powerful lasers in random hands.
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Old May 08, 2012, 09:33 PM
Balsadustus Producerus
Escondido, CA USA
Joined Jan 2001
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There are civil penalties here as the FAA takes this very seriously. I have had a green laser pointed at me a couple times and it was not only very distracting, temporarily but definitely affecting night vision.

A dumb response, but my first reaction was to roll in on that light, until my boss, who was in the right seat of the (his) airplane pointed out this was not a good idea here in the hills east of San Diego, at night. I was so angry I didn't respond initially, but noticed whoever it was saw me do that turn and ran into a house; they knew what they had just done.
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Old May 09, 2012, 01:56 AM
Is my CG correct?
discostu956's Avatar
Wollongong, Aus
Joined Sep 2009
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That made me laugh BalsaBird!

Cheers for that guys. I've only had those small lasers pointed at me, and not when I needed my night vision so I had no idea it had such an effect
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Old May 09, 2012, 07:05 AM
Buildings what I enjoy.
Australia, QLD, Witheren
Joined Nov 2007
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A helicopter pilot approaching Darwin airport had a laser pointed at him so the smart pilot aborted then informed the tower who in turn informed the coppers then the pilot ended up hovering over the house of the suspects. Caught them red handed .

Yes some military lasers are very strong and there is no such thing as an eye safe laser. We have filters on some of our equipment yet still do not shine it at any one so we treat it like a normal weapon.
Shane
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Old May 09, 2012, 08:46 AM
Is my CG correct?
discostu956's Avatar
Wollongong, Aus
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I was a bit perplexed by the military grade laser comment in the news, which implied it was strong but to my way of thinking the military would use strong and weak lasers purpose depending (or even not). I thought it was akin to saying a military grade chair Alhough if the lasers are like the issued packs.......well, the cat would have trouble seeing it I imagine!

Shane: If that pilot was a police pilot I imagine he would be lucky to be alive, but it seems he wasn't so he was just pretty pissed off

Cheers for the perspectives guys. Maybe I shouldn't take the piss out of this current story so much, and I don't know the circumstances, but it just seems a bit exagerated in comparison to all the stories mentioned in this thread
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Old May 10, 2012, 12:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by discostu956 View Post
I was a bit perplexed by the military grade laser comment in the news, which implied it was strong but to my way of thinking the military would use strong and weak lasers purpose depending (or even not). I thought it was akin to saying a military grade chair Alhough if the lasers are like the issued packs.......well, the cat would have trouble seeing it I imagine!

Shane: If that pilot was a police pilot I imagine he would be lucky to be alive, but it seems he wasn't so he was just pretty pissed off

Cheers for the perspectives guys. Maybe I shouldn't take the piss out of this current story so much, and I don't know the circumstances, but it just seems a bit exagerated in comparison to all the stories mentioned in this thread
The media will take their poor understanding and hype it up into the sky is falling. I laugh a lot when reading what is meant to be a serious news article, which gets some looks my way at times. I laugh simply because they have no idea where technical aspects are concerned, and neither has Joe public. Point being it makes better news to say 'the pilot was an inch from death' and perhaps fill in the details later. Hell I'd read about a pilots near death experience, but fortunately I rarely find that's the report is accurate.

Some where in between hype and accuracy is the truth.
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Old May 10, 2012, 01:16 AM
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KCV6's Avatar
Australia, SA, Edinburgh
Joined Aug 2009
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Class 1 is 100% eyesafe even if viewed through other optics eg. magnified through a lens system. Once you start seeing a letter after the "Class 1" then it becomes eyesafe only under certain conditions.

Yes the term "Military grade" is BS, lasers are lasers and not graded by userbase LOL. Any visible laser with sufficient power and beam divergence is an issue regardless of it being day or night. The worst offenders are green as it's the dominant wavelength that we see meaning it's more likely if subjected to it all you will see is green.

Temporary loss of spatial awareness in particular on rotary wing is most probably the highest contributor to controlled incidents (crash where there was nothing wrong with the aircraft).

Mark
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Old May 10, 2012, 03:21 AM
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Wouldnt the laser have to be pointed directly at the the pilots eyes? It seems hard to get one on anything to point something out. I knw it is dangerous and all but if it is really difficult maybe there are alot more of these attempted attacks that havent worked. If so then the airports should think of finding a way to pick up any laser in the vicinity
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Old May 10, 2012, 07:31 AM
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Australia, VIC, Croydon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scrubmonkey View Post
Wouldnt the laser have to be pointed directly at the the pilots eyes? It seems hard to get one on anything to point something out. I knw it is dangerous and all but if it is really difficult maybe there are alot more of these attempted attacks that havent worked. If so then the airports should think of finding a way to pick up any laser in the vicinity
Depending on the power output of the laser it will only take a split second pass over the pilots eyes at night as he is on short finals to land to destroy his night vision and cause an accident. The main problem with this happening is that it is generally always at night with the aircraft/helicopter operating close to the ground, landing or taking off.

The problem with detecting laser from the airport is that they are such a focused and directional light source that it is hard to see it if it isn't pointing at you. depending on the location the laser source could be masked by terrain from the airport too.

There have been trials in America of laser proof goggles that pilots can wear which are like welders masks that automatically darken when they detect laser light, but I cant find any results anywhere.
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Old May 10, 2012, 05:46 PM
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Have you guys seen this?

Laser Hits Police Helicopter (FROM FBI.GOV) (2 min 29 sec)


big
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Old May 10, 2012, 05:50 PM
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excelpoint's Avatar
Melbourne
Joined May 2004
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Regardless of what class, type, colour etc etc the person who used it to shine at an aircraft deserves to be prosecuted. It dosent matter if it caused an accident of not, it is about his intent for the actions he took.

I have no time for knobs like that.
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Old May 11, 2012, 10:01 AM
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twang's Avatar
Australia, QLD, King Scrub
Joined Jun 2005
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I can assure you all that this is taken seriously in Australia. Pilot reports are immediately passed to the AFP who in turn alert local police for action. If caught the penalty is severe. Bottom line, don't point lasers at people...ever!!
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Old May 13, 2012, 10:08 PM
Gravity sucks.
Australia, QLD, Toowoomba
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Originally Posted by twang View Post
I can assure you all that this is taken seriously in Australia. Pilot reports are immediately passed to the AFP who in turn alert local police for action. If caught the penalty is severe. Bottom line, don't point lasers at people...ever!!
I think this is the key to it - these people don't realise that pointing a laser device at an aircraft IS pointing a laser at people.
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