Pilots have a unique problem when it comes to protecting your eyes. The strength of ultraviolet radiation increases with altitude, and because today most pilots fly much higher than 5,000 feet above the earth's surface sunglasses for pilots become essential. The very nature of the pilot's life puts them in a position where they must spend a great deal of time looking into the sun because of the legal "see and avoid" requirement of licensing by civil aviation authorities. FAA Concerns For Pilot's Eyes The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Pilot Safety Brochure titled "Sunglasses for Pilots" which has recently been updated by the FAA As modern commercial and private jet aircraft become able to fly longer distances the pilot's eyes spend more time looking into the sunlight in order to comply with civil aviation's requirements that all pilots observe the "see and be seen" rule of aviation safety. This means not only to sunglasses for pilots need to have exceptional visual acuity, but that they must provide a minimum of 98 to 100% of ultraviolet radiation blocking. Sunglasses For Pilots Lenses Today many manufacturers offer polycarbonate, or plastic, lenses. Their chief benefit is their light weight; however, I would argue that glass lenses are better in almost every circumstance. Glass lenses can be precision ground to provide the best distortion free visual acuity possible with sunglasses lenses today. Add to that the fact that glass lenses will keep your eyes cooler over prolonged exposure to bright sunlight, and you should be convinced that glass lenses are truly the best lenses for pilots. Sunglasses For Pilots Construction Glass lenses are ground from a block of glass known as a "puck". This is a thick piece of glass which is round in shape. The lens manufacturer will grind the lens first and then apply several different kinds of coatings on the lenses. These coatings are what give the sunglasses for pilots their protection. In addition to the tint (which should allow between 8 and 15% of visible light transmittance through the lens) there should be an anti-reflective coating applied to the interior side of the lens. This is to insure that the lenses themselves can not reflect light from behind directly into the pilot's eyes. Sunglasses For Pilots Lens Tints Every pilot should carry at least 2 pairs of sunglasses. The first pair should have neutral gray lenses which provide natural colors when looking through the lens. The lenses should also be non-polarized as polarized lenses will distort any device with a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) like those found in aircraft glass cockpits. The second pair should have a tan tint which will increase contrast in hazy or overcast conditions making objects easier and quicker to see. Sunglasses Safety Video Is Price Important? When choosing a pair of sunglasses for pilots always make sure you look on the inside of the temple or under the nose bridge and locate the "C E" symbol stamped there. This symbol means that the sunglasses meet or exceed the European Standards for ultraviolet radiation protection and will block 98 to 100% of harmful uv rays from reaching your eyes. When it comes to proper protection of your most important sensory asset - your eyes - price should be the last consideration. Randolph Aviator Sunglasses Randolph Engineering is the supplier of the HGU-4/P sunglasses that are standard issue to the U.S. Military, and you can get the exact same sunglasses as a civilian. The sunglasses exceed the current Mil Spec S-25948 standards for military pilots and can be found on our website at "Pilot Sunglasses". In the meantime keep your wings straight and level Hersch! Please share "Why Expensive Sunglasses For Pilots Are Necessary" with your friends using the buttons below. Thanks! Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7+ ps: Don't forget to sign up for updates via email for "All Things Aviation" here!
by John White •