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  • ’Pilot’ Laser Study Launched
Jul 2007
WASHINGTON, July 5, 2007 -- The US Air Force and Federal Aviation Administration have launched a study of reactions of pilots exposed to lasers, United Press International (UPI) reported today.

The article city "an uneasy growth" in the incidents of lasers shown at the cockpits of commercial and military aircraft that it said has "created concern that weapons could be deployed that will blind military pilots or even cause an airliner to crash."

It said although there have been no known crashes linked to the laser lights, military analysts are concerned that a higher-powered laser capable of tracking high-speed planes could become a dangerous anti-aircraft weapon. So far, reported incidents have involved commercially available laser devices. (See also: House OKs Laser Pointer Bill)

Northrop Grumman said the project will be based on a Boeing 737 flight simulator "with a unique, nonharmful laser installed" that will be used to measure the responses of pilots when a plane is suddenly the "target" of a laser pointer.

The company said the flight simulator development will lead to improvements in cockpit procedures so commercial and military pilots can safely fly aircraft if a laser is pointed at them, and to new technology for military and civilian aircraft and possibly for new defensive equipment, the article said.

Pilots have reported more than 900 laser-related incidents nationally since the Federal Aviation Administration began recording them in late 2004.

The most recent widely reported incidents include one in Boston last night, just before 10:30 p.m., in which a pilot reportedly notified air traffic controllers they were "being painted by a laser" that was beaming a strong green light into the cockpit, as reported by the Associated Press. The article said air traffic controllers steered later flights away from the area from where the laser was pointed, reportedly about seven miles southeast of the airport, although the exact location was unknown. It was the fifth laser-related incident recorded at Logan since 2005.

Last month, a Tulsa, Okla., man was accused of pointing a laser at a police helicopter from a car, which police in the helicopter followed until an officer on the ground stopped it and reportedly found a high-intensity green laser inside.

Also in June, the owner of a cleaning firm in Scotland who "was outraged by RAF pilots flying over his home -- despite his house being next to their air base -- took to shining a powerful laser at their Tornado jets from RAF Leuchars in Fife," the Daily Record reported. The article said, "Cupar Sheriff Court was told that Harris, 45, was fed up with the noise of the jets passing overhead and wanted to teach them a lesson."

Pilots reported him to authorities, and Harris admitted to two charges of recklessly shining a laser at passing aircraft and was fined £400 (about $800).

The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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