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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 15th Feb 2016, 10:04
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Froma regular pax point of view I can only commend the attide of the crew and the airline . Assuming two pilots as is normal to JFK and one has impaired vision suddenly i would prefer a return to LHR to heading off intot he unknown with JFK winter weather and a dozen other unopredicatble possibilities with only one pilot comfortable with what they can actually see. Quite astonished at the few critical psots and opinions .

It does seem odd about the 'penetration into the cockpit froma ground based laser assuming the plane is climbing in spite of SE England population density there are alot of uninhabiited areas west of LHR quite heavily wooded too and if the laser is coloured it may have just caught the unfiortunate pilots attention and the automatic 'look at the light response' caused the problem . Also that is an area where aaircraft on Compton depatures turn further to the west than the inital track from Heathrow and that could mean it waqs in a bit of a right bank whan it happened which could explain how the pilot saw it in the first place.

i would have thought/hoped there had been enough publicity about the dangers of this to stop even hardened idiots doing it but it seems sadly not.
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 10:11
  #42 (permalink)  
 
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It's not close to slander at all. What G0uli said was definitely slander! Trust me, I'm a lawyer.
The written word is "libel", it is the spoken word that is "slander".

Trust me, I'm no lawyer
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 10:16
  #43 (permalink)  
 
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pax b

It might not even need bank.

It does seem odd about the 'penetration into the cockpit froma ground based laser assuming the plane is climbing
Not really , many types have a reasonably depressed sight line available through the side windows. Chuck in a bit of
the automatic 'look at the light response'
and I can easily see (sorry) how the incident could have happened.
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 10:17
  #44 (permalink)  
 
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I'm curious that no passengers were affected in this incident, nor apparently in other incidences.

Either the beam was narrow and tracked the cockpit area with very high precision or the passengers, whose view was not obscured by the wing, were not looking out the window nor drawn to the surface of the window being illuminated.

The narrower the beam the more precision or luck needed to keep the beam from illuminating the passenger cabin.


Mickjoebill
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 10:42
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There is something not right about these incidents. The sort of hand-held lasers that you can buy in the middle east just should not cause the sort of incidents we are seeing.
These videos are of helicopters over Tarir square.
They flew or hovered repeatedly over the crowd for extended periods and had literally thousands of lasers directed at them including green and blue lasers.
They did not lose the ability to see despite repeated exposure at a range far closer than the airliner hits.
This mass laser exposure is commonly directed at politicians and public speakers in many parts of the world also.





I worry that this might be something more serious?

Last edited by Tourist; 15th Feb 2016 at 11:15.
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 10:47
  #46 (permalink)  
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As an ex-pilot and a more frequent SLF, I have experienced being laser scanned sitting in seat 3a from a source in the North Bracknell area. I can tell you that even knowing the risks, I was attempting to shield my eyes, while trying to identify the location between scans. In my case while not painful, I experienced a slight green "aura" for a few seconds afterwards.

I can verify that from a pilot's perspective, you would be incapacitated in the full meaning of the word, until vision was regained. There is also an element of disorientation for the duration of the experience.

I am sure that many SLF's must have experienced the effects of L%s%rs and tried to report it without success. (It's not something that airlines would want to publicise.)

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Old 15th Feb 2016, 10:54
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It does seem that it was something more than a 'hobby' l@ser gun here. Of course the pilot was totally correct (and responsible) in his actions.

FF

P.S. not all lapsed PPLs are w@nkers. In my case I have reached an age where my own knowledge is unlimited and my opinions always totally correct
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 11:27
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From July 2012

The eye damage that a JetBlue pilot suffered after two green laser beams were reportedly shined into a New York-bound airplane flying at 5,000 feet this week happens because the lens of the eye focuses light onto the retina, and the heat energy is enough to burn the eye, expert say.

When light enters the eye, it is focused by the lens on the retina at the back of the eye, explained Dr. Neil Bressler, an ophthalmologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The damage happens when the focused light is too strong or lasts for too long, and heats the part of the retina that contains pigment, or color.

"That pigment absorbs the light just like dark clothing, and just like dark clothing radiates, it radiates heat," Bressler said.

The heat can burn the eye and permanently damage the retina. If the laser light is brief or weak, it may not produce the same heat or long-lasting damage, but instead could create a small after-image, which is a bright spot that prevents normal vision.

This is similar to what happens when you stare at a bright light for too long — you continue to see a bright spot for a few seconds after looking away, because "it takes the retina time to recover, to be able to see again," Bressler said.

But the thermal damage could also cause a permanent blank spot, he said, which is impossible to treat and would require retina replacement, he said. That type of damage is very rare, however, and Bressler said that he had mainly seen it in people who've been in industrial accidents.

Light from lasers maintains its energy even over long distances. The extent of the eye damage that occurs depends on the strength of the laser, the distance from the laser and length of exposure.

Last year, lasers above a certain strength were outlawed in the U.S. in an attempt to limit this kind of harm.

In the case of the JetBlue pilot, officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Aviation Administration said they are searching for the person who shined the lasers into the plane’s cockpit, according to news reports.

The plane landed safely.

Pass it on: Lasers damage the eye by heating up the retina, and can cause permanent damage.

Lasers Can Cause Permanent Eye Damage | Retina Damage
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 11:32
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MATELO

None of that is new. We know that eyes focus light, that is why we don't look at the sun yet sun does not burn our skin unless we sit in direct sunlight for an extended time.

What that does not say is how come lasers are blinding pilots?
There are a million lasers in the hands of idiot kids all over the world shining them at each other all the time, yet the worlds casualty departments are not overrun by blind kids, or even kids with itchy eyes etc.
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 11:34
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Always wondered what triggered the nighttime blind closing frenzy guess I've just.found out why..

I can only add that my comtempt is split evenly between those who carry out these wanton acts and those who would second guess the flightcrews decisions..
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 11:34
  #51 (permalink)  
 
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Wiggy, yes, I know all that. What I was commenting on was the poster's apparent belief that an airline would nip back to base from well into a sector solely, repeat solely, to collect a pilot to replace a crew member on the next flight from the destination. Of course it's mandatory to divert/RTB if a member of the flight deck operating crew is incapacitated or likely to become so during a flight. At least I have always believed it is.
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 11:40
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It would seem our er `friend`is more used to Jet Blast..in the middle of the night he probably thought he still was

On a serious note I hope the injured First Officer makes a swift recovery and gets back to work. The Captain was utterly professional and did everything right imho..As a human being, damn the inconvenience, getting someone medical attention is far more important..He has reinforced safety first and done his company proud
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 11:45
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As a human being, damn the inconvenience, getting someone medical attention is far more important..
Yes. I would have every sympathy with a pilot with a suspected eye injury wanting to get to hospital just as quickly as physically possible, and I would expect the system to deliver this.
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 11:50
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Tourist

None of that is new.
Hence the date from 4 years ago.

Just highlighting the apparent similarities for those who didn't know.
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 11:55
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Professional flight crew make decisions based on compliance with corporate policies and international safety standards. If company policy dictates that an aircraft should land if a pilot has been dazzled by a laser, then that is what the crew need to do.

If the circumstances of this incident are as has been reported then several things don't make sense.

The aircraft was roughly a mile above the ground and allowing for the beam direction to enter the cockpit through a side window at a reasonable angle, the ground location would need to be a couple of miles to the side of the aircraft.

Lasers capable of causing eye damage while being focused on the cockpit area of a rapidly moving aircraft at a range of three or more miles are not consumer items bought off the internet.

The pilots apparently did not immediately report the incident to Heathrow or a UK based air traffic control.

Having declared an emegency, the aircraft dumped fuel and flew back to Heathrow rather than land at Shannon where the pilot could have received more immediate medical assistance.

I was under the impression that larger aircraft carried two pilots so that in event of one pilot becoming incapacitated, the other would be capable of flying the aircraft to its destination, albeit with a reduced level of safety. Modern aircraft are complex, but we are frequently told that the pilots only hand fly aircraft at take off and landing. It isn't as if this flight would have been hand flown across the Atlantic by a single pilot.

I wasn't there on board the aircraft, so whatever decisions the flight crew made were right for them, at the time. The aircraft landed safely and the passengers were uninjured.

Ultra high powered lasers used for cutting materials operate outside the human visual range, so are unlikely to have featured in this incident. Visual spectrum lasers with powers of up to 50 watts are used in arena stage shows and outdoor displays. One of these would certainly cause a distraction if pointed in your direction and would be visible for many miles. These are rather expensive and unlikely to be in private ownership. Anyone legally possessing such a device would be unlikely to deliberately target an aircraft with it in my opinion. Such an act would be tantamount to an act of war and there is a Geneva Convention banning the use of lasers to blind enemy combatants (and presumably civilians).

Hopefully the culprit will be swiftly located and dealt with in an appropriate manner.

The reporting also suggests that the aircraft was deliberately targetted and didn't just happen to fly through a fixed beam being used for display or star location purposes. Such a fixed beam would only have caused a brief flash in the cockpit and would have been unlikely to have caused the disruption it did. So making this most likely a deliberate act.

The crew took the decisions they did in the light of their circumstances at the time and it all ended safely, so they deserve congratulations for that. I sincerely hope that the affected pilot recovers swiftly from the effects of this incident and that it has no affect on his medical status to fly.

With the benefit of hindsight, you can be right all the time.
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 11:59
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@Digitalis
Just to let you know that the captain of that flight is a past moderator of this forum and has read this thread
So it can't be all bad then... if he's reading. Gets coat...
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 12:11
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If a beam is pointed at the aircraft, how should the pilot react?
What is the best way for the pilot to avoid eye damage?
Move the head, look elsewhere, how quick of a reaction is needed?
Is there a recommended procedure? By day, or night time?
Thanks,
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 12:12
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I was under the impression that larger aircraft carried two pilots so that in event of one pilot becoming incapacitated, the other would be capable of flying the aircraft to its destination......


Sorry but if you think it would have been OK to carry on over the Atlantic you've got a very simplistic view of what goes on the flight deck.

Hypothetically lets say you're minutes into a 6-7 hour sector and you've gone from 2 up front to 1, you've not even begun to scratch the surface of the all the routine issues/clearances that need a double check by a second pilot, such as level changes/speed changes/ the Atlantic route clearance /onward route clearance at the far end... and at the other end the fun and games going into JFK. Chuck in any other odd ball en-route (technical problem/passenger problem) and you would be really up against it.

Could you do it mechanically - probably.
Would the authorities approve? No.
Would it be sensible? IMHO No.

....
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 12:13
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I was under the impression that larger aircraft carried two pilots so that in event of one pilot becoming incapacitated, the other would be capable of flying the aircraft to its destination, albeit with a reduced level of safety. Modern aircraft are complex, but we are frequently told that the pilots only hand fly aircraft at take off and landing. It isn't as if this flight would have been hand flown across the Atlantic by a single pilot.

Indeed they can, however, I suspect this is more to do with "seeking medical attention" for the affected person, rather than flying "solo" across the pond.
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Old 15th Feb 2016, 12:24
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This thread is a tad on the silly side - if you feel that your ability to operate the aircraft safely has been compromised then you ARE incapacitated and your only option (in the absence of a spare crew) is to land as soon as is safely possible.
There is obviously room for interpretation; the degree of incapacitation, the probability of the condition worsening and such things as familiarity with the chosen airfield are among the factors to consider along with the urgency of obtaining medical treatment.
Continueing a long haul flight is NOT an option.
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