Doherty Center for Aviation and Health Research

Faculty Funded Work

Determining the Hazardous Effects of Flight Deck Laser Illumination Events

Phase III: Testing for Color Deficiency

Stanley L. Harriman, Randal J. DeMik, Ryan Phillips, and Suling Li
Aviation & Nursing


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. 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 the study focused on testing the application of various coatings to aircraft windshields in order to reduce the effects of laser exposure to crewmembers. Phase III is an interdisciplinary study within the Department of Aviation and College of Nursing and Health Professions at Lewis University. Safe and efficient flight operations depend on the ability of a pilot to see normal spectrums of color. Therefore, using the Ishihara colorblindness test, this study will investigate pilots’ color perception through an aircraft windshield coated with a film designed to reduce laser intensity from entering a flight deck. Specifically, this study will test the hypothesis that there will be no differences between color vision test scores when conducting trials utilizing coated and non-coated windshields. The Ishihara test is a Pseudoisochromatic plates color vision test used by FAA medical examiners to test pilots for color deficiency. Participants for this study will be pilots, within Lewis University’s aviation program, holding a current FAA medical certificate (N = 100). This study will use a repeated measures design that includes within-subjects factors where each of the participants are tested from two trials, each under two conditions: coated and non-coated. The order of trials will be altered using a counterbalancing technique which also provides a between subjects factor. All collected data will be analyzed using SPSS for researcher interpretations.