Shining a laser pointer at your cat can give you a funny video. Shining one at an aircraft is a felony and can give you up to five years in prison.
With distance, the point of laser’s beam is widened. If pointed at a plane, this light is a dangerous distraction that impairs a pilot’s vision. For a few years now, the FAA and the FBI have said that lasers can pose a danger to aviation.
October had its share of “lasing” incidents. In the UK, an aerial search for a missing woman was interrupted by a laser pointer. The Press reported that a young boy was found to be the source of the light, which had been shining on the helicopter.
A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police spokesman said the laser pen was confiscated from the six-year-old boy, and he and his parents were spoken to by officers who had been sent to the boy’s location by the helicopter crew.
In Baltimore, another kid was found shining a laser at a state police helicopter. CBS Baltimore says,
Returning from an emergency Medevac mission over Mount Airy, a state police helicopter became the target of a dangerous attack…
The 12-year-old was just given a warning for his actions.
The New York Police Department recently posted on their Facebook that helicopter pilots had to call off their search for a suspected rapist because of a laser pointer. The “lasing” incident forced them to refocus their efforts on finding the source of the light, rather than the suspect.
As an incentive, the FBI says they will, “offer up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of any individual who intentionally aims a laser at an aircraft.” They also report that since 2005, when the FBI began to track laser strikes, there has been a dramatic increase in attacks.
While offering rewards and educating the public are some tactic to fight the nuisance of laser pointers, they are not the only ones.
metaAir™’s optically transparent thin film filter is more than 100 times thinner than a human hair, and selectively blocks narrow-band, specific light frequencies by reflection rather than absorption.
In layman’s terms, their product will significantly reduce the laser’s light that comes in through the cockpit’s windows. On their site, the company says that,
metaAir™ drastically improves fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft flight safety without heavily impacting fleet availability, as it does not need lengthy grounding time for integrating the solution. Also, end users do not have to wait for the next generation of safety solutions on future aircraft, metaAir™ can be immediately deployed on existing aircraft.
As “lasing” becomes more prevalent, this window film will become more important. It may also be the easier alternative to hunting down the lasers themselves.
Here is a video of a suspect being arrested for pointing a laser at a helicopter.