Don’t point laser beams at planes

2010-09-29 00:00

DON’T shine laser lights at aeroplanes. That was the call from the Airline Pilots’ Association South Africa (ALPA-SA) yesterday who expressed concern with the increased projection of laser lights, particularly the ones used in the vicinity of aerodromes, because they can seriously affect the visual performance of pilots.

Said Sonia Ferreira, general manager of ALPA-SA, “Members of the association are reporting increased incidents of sudden and intense bursts of light, sometimes even being deliberately shone at aircraft in the airspace in and around aerodromes. The public should be informed and made aware that they can be arrested when engaging in such unlawful activities.”

She said the use of lasers for outdoor entertainment is increasing and could cause flight hazards associated with temporary vision loss during critical phases of flight. She said unplanned exposure to laser lights may distract pilots or create temporary vision impairments, posing significant flight safety risks, particularly during approach and landing.

Lasers light is focused by the lens of the eye on to a very small spot on the retina, making the eye more sensitive to laser radiation. A laser beam struck aU.S. pilot on a commercial flight in the eye. “He was completely flash-blinded in his right eye and suffered impaired vision in his left eye. He was unable to see for 30 seconds and for another two minutes was unable to interpret any of his flight instruments,” said Ferreira.


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