Doherty Center for Aviation and Health Research

Faculty Funded Work

Reducing the Hazardous Effects of Flight Deck Laser Illumination Events

Dr. Randall DeMik, Dr. Stanley Harriman, Dr. Ryan Phillips and Dr. Charles Crowder


Since 2005, reported laser attacks from people on the ground directed towards departing and landing aircraft has increased over 300%. A laser aimed at the windshield of an aircraft startles a pilot and may cause injury. Efforts by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to educate the public and impose steep fines appear to have no effect on reducing these attacks. Potential safety concerns include flight deck illumination events in commercial airliners, general aviation airplanes, and helicopters. This study will provide empirical evidence of laser intensity in the flight deck, from ground-based laser illumination events, and the potential for harm to the human eye. Specifically, Phase I will attempt to answer the following research questions:

  1. What is the measured intensity of laser light penetrating the flight deck based on laser wavelength, laser power, range, and incidence angle as the laser hits various aircraft windshields?

  2. Do the measured intensities exceed federally mandated eye safety requirements (established by the Center for Devices and Radiological Health-CDRH)?