A Review of Recent Laser Illumination Events in the Aviation Environment
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION OKLAHOMA CITY OK CIVIL AEROMEDICAL INST
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Flight crewmember exposure to laser light, while operating an aircraft at night, has resulted in glare, flashblindness, and afterimage. Temporary visual impairment and the distraction, disorientation, and discomfort that can accompany it often result in hazardous situations. A database of aviation reports involving laser illumination of flight crewmembers has been established and maintained at the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute. A review of recent laser illumination reports was initiated to investigate the significance of these events. Reports of high-intensity light illumination of aircraft were collected from Federal Aviation Administration FAA regional offices, Transportation Security Administration, Department of Homeland SecurityFederal Bureau of Investigation Information Bulletins, the FAAs Office of Accident Investigation, newspaper articles, and interviews with pilots submitted by the airline industry. Reports that involved laser exposures of civilian aircraft in the United States were analyzed for the 13-month period January 1, 2004 - January 31, 2005. There were 90 reported instances of laser illumination during the study period. A total of 53 reports involved laser exposure of commercial aircraft. Lasers illuminated the cockpit in 41 46 of the incidents. Of those, 13 32 incidents resulted in visual impairment or distraction to a pilot, including 1 incident that reportedly resulted in ocular injury. Nearly 96 of these reports occurred in the last 3 months of the study period. There were no aviation accidents in which laser light illumination was found to be a contributing factor. The study of laser illumination incidents in the national airspace system can identify the operational problems that result from such events. Improved reporting and analysis of laser events enhances aviation safety.
- Lasers and Masers
- Commercial and General Aviation