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Virgin Atlantic flight from London to NY returns after pilot hurt in laser incident

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Virgin Atlantic flight from London to NY returns after pilot hurt in laser incident

Old 26th Feb 2016, 07:58
  #241 (permalink)  
 
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I was illuminated by a green laser at less than 2 miles final at night at Manchester, I was unfortunate enough to look right into the beam. I was lucky, I suffered no pain, a little temporary blindness equivalent to loss of night vision, but no eye damage. I was startled by the incident. It was the FOs leg, the autopilot was engaged, we landed without further incident. The experience was, in my opinion, directly comparable to a nearby lightning flash (which I have also experienced) although the duration of the intense light was shorter than that from lightning. ATC were informed, an MOR was filed, the police investigated, no culprits were found.

I didn't get eye damage, I didn't experience any other problems other than a little temporary blindness which was no more than loss of night vision. Even had it been single pilot operations the landing would not have been interrupted.

Had there been pain, long term blindness or eye damage the outcome could have been very different.

The case of police and helimed operations could probably be very different, I can't comment on them because I have no experience of them.
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Old 26th Feb 2016, 08:09
  #242 (permalink)  
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I don't know if anybody here but me has read the official investigation report into the loss of the Titanic. I think it's relevant to what some people are saying here...

This is from a section headed "actions that should have been taken". The bold is mine. The whole report is here

It was shown that for many years past, indeed, for a quarter of a century or more, the practice of liners using this track when in the vicinity of ice at night had been in clear weather to keep the course, to maintain the speed and to trust to a sharp look-out to enable them to avoid the danger. This practice, it was said, had been justified by experience, no casualties having resulted from it. I accept the evidence as to the practice and as to the immunity from casualties which is said to have accompanied it. But the event has proved the practice to be bad. Its root is probably to be found in competition and in the desire of the public for quick passages rather than in the judgment of navigators. But unfortunately experience appeared to justify it. In these circumstances I am not able to blame Captain Smith. He had not the experience which his own misfortune has afforded to those whom he has left behind, and he was doing only that which other skilled men would have done in the same position. It was suggested at the bar that he was yielding to influences which ought not to have affected him; that the presence of Mr. Ismay on board and the knowledge which he perhaps had of a conversation between Mr. Ismay and the Chief Engineer [Bell] at Queenstown about the speed of the ship and the consumption of coal probably induced him to neglect precautions which he would otherwise have taken. But I do not believe this. The evidence shows that he was not trying to make any record passage or indeed any exceptionally quick passage. He was not trying to please anybody, but was exercising his own discretion in the way he thought best. He made a mistake, a very grievous mistake, but one in which, in face of the practice and of past experience, negligence cannot he said to have had any part; and in the absence of negligence it is, in my opinion, impossible to fix Captain Smith with blame. It is, however, to be hoped that the last has been heard of the practice and that for the future it will be abandoned for what we now know to be more prudent and wiser measures. What was a mistake in the case of the "Titanic" would without doubt be negligence in any similar case in the future.
It seems to me that all those saying "but no crashes have been caused" or "no pilots have been permanently blinded" are in the same place intellectually as those who in, say, 1910, were quite happy about the occasional close encounter with no collision when steaming through fields of icebergs.

Last edited by Genghis the Engineer; 26th Feb 2016 at 11:31.
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Old 26th Feb 2016, 08:48
  #243 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by beardy
...I was lucky...
So the basis of suggesting laser attacks aren't that bad really are based on your experience in which you admit you were lucky. How did it feel being blind on short final?

Had it been a more powerful laser you may not have been so lucky.
Had you got a longer exposure you may not have been so lucky.
Had it happened to the PF you may not have been so lucky.
Had you missed something during your temporary blindness you may not have been so lucky.
Had you done something incorrectly during your temporary blindness you may not have been so lucky.
Had your temporary blindness lasted longer you may not have been so lucky.
Etc..

How do you know that a single pilot would have achieved the same outcome whilst being blind?
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Old 26th Feb 2016, 09:31
  #244 (permalink)  
 
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Yes I was lucky in that I suffered no injury, the safe landing wasn't down to luck, nor did I suggest that. I didn't say that all laser attacks aren't that bad, just that mine wasn't as catastrophic as many people assume that they are. I know that my experiences are not uncommon.

As for your other points, in turn:

I wasn't blinded, I had a flash and temporary loss of night vision. Have you seen the runway lights at Manchester, if you had you would know that they are so bright that they too destroy your night vision.

If it had been a more powerful laser I may or may not have been so lucky, I don't know, it wasn't, nor would I know what was being used.

I think that without sight stabilisation and a good aiming device most, if not all laser illuminations of airborne aircraft will be fleeting. That's not to say that a bad man won't have these at his disposal, but most civilian events are from casual idiots.

As PNF I know that in this circumstance I was not incapacitated and could have acted as PF.

See point 1

See point 1

Very true, had I done something incorrect then the outcome may or may not have been so lucky, depending on what it was I had done and at what stage of flight. This hypothetical scenario has too many what ifs.

How do I know that a single pilot could have landed the aircraft in these circumstances? Because I was there and think that this event didn't impede my abilities any more than exposure to a close lightning flash. Quite evidently a single pilot, if blind, couldn't land the aircraft, but that wasn't what happened to me, I wasn't blind.

Genghis,

You have a good point, just because nothing bad has happened yet does not mean that something bad won't happen. I believe that some folk over assess the risk of damage to a pilot's eyes from currently easily available devices, but I am neither an opthalmologist nor a laser energy expert, so I could be wrong. Certainly in single pilot operations IF there is eye damage the outcome could be very poor.

Which all begs the question, what more needs to be done and can be done to mitigate the risk of an accident arising from a laser illumination incident.
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Old 26th Feb 2016, 09:53
  #245 (permalink)  
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It's just that you said you suffered temporary blindness. So was it loss of night vision or temporary blindness? They are not the same thing. Bearing in mind you looked right into the beam it would be interesting to note how you suffered no light spots (localised blindness) or flash blindness.

This hypothetical scenario has too many what ifs.
None of them positive.
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Old 26th Feb 2016, 10:11
  #246 (permalink)  
 
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I remember suffering a loss of night vision, no localised nor flash blindness that I recall as having an affect on the operation. It was very similar to exposure to lightning. Instantly and unexpectedly losing night vision has the feeling of being temporarily blinded especially when looking outside into darkness at night, readjusting to cockpit and runway lighting is not usually a problem.
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Old 4th Mar 2016, 13:28
  #247 (permalink)  
 
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BBC reporting that a USAF F-15 crew out of RAF Lakenheath was "disorientated" by a laser.

US F-15 Lakenheath crew 'disorientated' after laser targeting - BBC News
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Old 4th Mar 2016, 17:54
  #248 (permalink)  
 
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3 mainstream media reports in a very short space of time.

Streisand effect?
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Old 4th Mar 2016, 22:32
  #249 (permalink)  
 
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Laser protection film

Canadian company MTI have been testing a high tech film made with nanoparticles, designed to protect pilots from lasers.

In 2014 they announced tests with Airbus and hoped for a rollout about now.

Any further news on this product or the Airbus trial?

mainstream media reports in a very short space of time.
Investors at work, product launch soon?

Last edited by mickjoebill; 4th Mar 2016 at 22:36. Reason: Can't get rid of @
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Old 24th Nov 2017, 12:46
  #250 (permalink)  
 
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Laser Offence

Breaking news......

Unemployed Wright (35) admitted endangering an aircraft, at an earlier hearing at the city’s magistrates court.

He also accepted the offence put him in breach of a suspended sentence relating to a battery charge.

Sentencing him today, Judge Marcus Tregilgas Davey said: “Your actions caused the pilot to be dazzled and lose concentration – and caused the team to abandon their task which involved a firearms incident. It wasn’t just one time, over a 15 minute period there were a number of bursts. The seriousness of this offence is blindingly obvious".
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Old 24th Nov 2017, 13:39
  #251 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by anchorhold
Sentencing him today
To 20 weeks in prison, if anyone was wondering.
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Old 24th Nov 2017, 14:16
  #252 (permalink)  
 
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....and probably out after 10 weeks, if that!
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Old 24th Nov 2017, 14:40
  #253 (permalink)  
 
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A judge with a sense of irony...

Sentencing him today, Judge Marcus Tregilgas Davey said: “ [...] The seriousness of this offence is blindingly obvious."
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Old 26th Nov 2017, 06:57
  #254 (permalink)  
 
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Illegal, yes. But still available.

Originally Posted by severidian
After similar problems in Australia lasers with power >1mW were basically banned.
A vendor at a Melbourne swap meet was selling 100AUD l@sers which could deliver about as much concentrated heat as a magnifying glass on a sunny day.

Note that these devices had a focus adjustment so you could control the beam width.
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Old 26th Nov 2017, 23:00
  #255 (permalink)  
 
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International rules are very different. US retailers are prohibited from offering lasers with over 5 milliwatts of power, but it is easy to mail order something vastly more powerful from abroad, such as a full Class 3B laser for about $20.

Idiots can get blinding lasers very easily, because the gear trades very freely and a foreign seller only needs to comply with his country's minimal restrictions
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Old 11th May 2018, 14:10
  #256 (permalink)  
 
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Shining lasers at planes could get you 5 years in jail

Intent is no longer required.

From 'The Register' ...
https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/0...ear_sentences/
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Old 11th May 2018, 14:25
  #257 (permalink)  
 
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Should be ten years.
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