While there may be some concern that laser illumination of aircraft may cause an accident, or at the very least cause serious injury to a pilot’s eyes, these fears are unfounded provided the pilots are well informed of the risks and how to avoid problems.
There have been an increasing number of incidents given the availability of laser pointers today and the desire of some to cause problems in order to observe some spectacular event like an aircraft crash.
Here are some facts:
- Laser illumination of an aircraft can cause non-permanent retina damage to a pilot’s eyes;
- Laser illumination of an aircraft can cause temporary blindness – called “flash blindness” – which can last for several minutes;
- Laser illumination of an aircraft can invoke a startle response which can distract a pilot from their flight deck duties momentarily;
- Laser illumination of an aircraft is most common when the aircraft is at or below 1,200 feet AGL.
There are a number of things pilots need to be aware of if you encounter laser illumination of your aircraft. Here are some of them:
- Do NOT rub your eyes;
- Do NOT look into the beam;
- Shield your eyes and look at the instrument panel;
- Turn the cockpit lights up;
- Turn on your autopilot (if you have one);
- If it is a 2 pilot aircraft, turn control over to the unaffected pilot;
- Report any incidents to the FAA on form AC 70-2.
The green laser light will cause more distraction than the red laser light and can be dispersed throughout the cockpit windshield while illuminated. Following is a very informative video about this problem:
Be sure and gather as much information about this problem as possible and stay alert for any laser illumination of your aircraft.
In the meantime keep your wings straight and level Hersch!
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