Doherty Center for Aviation and Health Research

Faculty Funded Work

The Hazardous Effects of Flight Deck Laser Illumination Events Phase II: Proof of Concept Testing for Applications of Nanoparticle Coatings

Dr. Ryan S. Phillips, Dr. Jason Keleher, Dr. Stanley L. Harriman, Dr. Randal J. DeMik , and Dr. Charles Crowder
Aviation and Chemistry

ABSTRACT

Since 2005, reported laser attacks from people on the ground directed towards arriving and departing aircraft have increased over 300%.  A laser aimed at the windshield of an aircraft startles a pilot and may cause injury. Phase I of the study offered empirical evidence of laser intensity in the flight deck and the potential for harm to the human eye at various distances. Results of Phase I revealed that relatively low-powered lasers had measured intensity levels through cockpit windshields at close distances that may cause potential damage to crewmember’s eyes. At longer distances the threat of eye damage was unlikely, but the potential for distracting visual effects in flight such as temporary flash blindness, glare or disruption, and distraction or startle were measured. The Phase I study provided empirical evidence of laser intensity in the flight deck, from ground-based laser illumination events, and the potential for adverse effects to flight safety. Phase II of this study will focus on testing the application of various nanoparticle coatings to aircraft windshields in order to reduce the effects of laser exposure to crewmembers. Phase II will attempt to answer the following research questions:

  1. What is the resultant measured intensity of laser light penetrating the flight deck based on laser wavelength, laser power output, distance from the laser to the windshield, and windshield configuration (varied nanoparticle coated and non-coated)?

  2. How do the measured intensities compare to federally mandated eye safety requirements (established by the Center for Devices and Radiological Health-CDRH)?