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News: Statistics, Laws and All other laser pointer news


This webpage has a chronological list of general laser pointer news. There are separate pages for specific aviation-related incidents and non-aviation-related incidents. In addition, the What’s new at the website page lists major changes, updates, and additions to LaserPointerSafety.com.

We sometimes add older news items; since the list is chronological, items new to this page won’t always appear at the top. You may want to scroll down to see if there are new items since the last time you visited.

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Taiwan: 10-year-old playing with laser, trying to avoid eye, but still gets retinal damage

A 10-year-old Taiwanese boy playing with a laser pointer suffered retinal damage, according to a June 13 2018 news story.

The boy was playing with a classmate, trying to dodge the beam. At some point it hit the boy’s left eye. He felt a stinging sensation and became light sensitive.

During a routine eye exam two weeks later, a retinal burn was seen. The boy underwent photocoagulation treatment and will need regular follow-up exams to monitor the eye’s healing, but he did not suffer any vision loss, said Wu Pei-chang, director of the Department of Ophthalmology at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Kaohsiung (third-largest city in Taiwan).

From the Taipei Times

UK: Average of 50 laser illuminations of military aircraft per year in UK

From 2013 through 2017, there were about 250 “laser-related” air safety occurrence incidents involving military aircraft (planes and helicopters) in UK. airspace.

It is not clear if these military incidents are included in the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) statistics about laser illuminations of aircraft.

The Ministry of Defence figures, made public June 11 2018, were rounded to the nearest 10. The list below shows the reported military-related laser incidents in the UK, along with the CAA numbers for the UK and for overseas UK operators

2013 - 40 military, 1396 CAA UK home, 329 CAA UK overseas operators
2014 - 70 military, 1447 CAA UK home, 317 CAA UK overseas operators
2015 - 70 military, 1440 CAA UK home, 355 CAA UK overseas operators
2016 - 30 military, 1258 CAA UK home, 274 CAA UK overseas operators
2017 - 40 military, 989 CAA UK home, 243 CAA UK overseas operators

The information was released in response to a written parliamentary question submitted by former defence minister Kevan Jones, who said “New laws to deter those stupid enough to carry out these attacks might not be enough, and the Government should give police operating around air bases the resources needed to catch offenders.”

From the Mirror. We have additional statistics and stories about the UK, plus a page with statistics about the UK and other countries.

World: Wicked Lasers sells white-light flashlights (non-laser) capable of burning objects

It is not just handheld lasers than can burn objects. Wicked Lasers sells the handheld FlashTorch and FlashTorch Mini, white-light flashlights advertised with the slogan “Why illuminate when you can incinerate.” This is from a June 7 2018 email advertisement:

Wicked Lasers Flash Torch Mini ad

A YouTube video demo shows the flashlight burning a swath of black plastic:

Wicked Lasers Flash Torch Mini video screenshot

Both the original FlashTorch and the Mini version have a regular price of USD $199.

Wicked Lasers is known for being the first widespread supplier of Class 4 handheld lasers, with a nominal 1 watt blue laser introduced in mid-2010. Since that time, Wicked has taken laser safety actions such as requiring a buyer to take a short safety test before allowing an order, voluntarily putting a label on the laser warning not to aim at aircraft, supplying safety information with the laser, and supporting laser safety efforts.

From a email sent June 7 2018. The FlashTorch webpage is here. Previous LaserPointerSafety.com stories about Wicked Lasers are here.

US: Advisory committee recommends pilot procedures, training and glare protection

An aviation safety advisory committee on June 2 2018 published recommendations about how pilots can recognize and recover from laser glare incidents. The document, Aerospace Recommended Practice 6378, is entitled “Guidance on Mitigation Strategies Against Laser Illumination Effects.”

ARP6378™ has three main parts:
  • A description of how lasers can interfere with pilots’ vision and operational performance, and how pilots can reduce adverse effects.
  • A recommendation for pilot training, including exposure to safe, simulated laser light in a simulator or other realistic flying environment
  • A description of Laser Glare Protection eyewear and windscreen film, with recommendations for whether and how to use these.

The document was developed by the SAE G10OL “Operational Laser” committee over a two-year period. It is available for purchase from SAE for $78. A three-page preview, which includes most of the Table of Contents except the appendices, is here.

From SAE ARP6378™, “Guidance on Mitigation Strategies Against Laser Illumination Effects”, published June 2 2018. Available from SAE.org.

For commentary about this document, Click to read more...

US: Marines to buy 1,653 eye-safe laser dazzlers

B.E. Meyers & Co. on May 29 2018 announced that the U.S. Marine Corps will be buying 1,653 “Glare Recoil” LA-22/U laser dazzlers. It contains a 250 mW 532nm green laser, with variable divergence from 4 to 70 milliradians. It uses three technologies to ensure the beam is eye-safe at any distance:

  • An infrared (1535nm) laser rangefinder determines the distance to a person or object. The closer the distance, the lower the laser power output.
  • Near-field detection shuts off laser emission if a person or object is too close to the laser output aperture.
  • A 3-axis gyroscope detects motion. If the Glare Recoil is suddenly moved, the laser shuts off until stability is resumed and an accurate determination of the distance to a person or object can be re-established: “This prevents hazardous irradiance in situations where Glare Recoil is moving faster than the laser rangefinder can detect objects and dose power output. This results in the prevention of eye hazard danger caused by rapid movement of the device (example: flagging) or improper situational awareness of the operator.”

With these technologies, the laser detects objects or people in the proximity of the beam and then self-adjusts the power output to maintain eye safety. The Nominal Ocular Hazard Distance is said to be 0 meters; the range is 10 feet to 10 miles.

Suggested uses include urban patrolling, cordon and search, crowd control, clearing facilities and security checkpoints.

BE Meyers Glare Recoil laser dazzler
The Glare Recoil is about the size of a Walkman tape player at 5.5” x 3” x 2”. It can mount on a rifle or be handheld.


Meyers also sells a Class 1M “Glare Helios” which has an FDA variance allowing sales to U.S. local, state and federal law enforcement, and U.S. flagged vessels.

From Marine Corps Times, Soldier Systems, and B.E. Meyers. A video produced by the company goes into detail about the specifications and how the person/object detection works.

US: Low-cost malaria detector uses a laser pointer and a magnet

Researchers at the University of Southern California have developed a low-cost, easy-to-use method of detecting malaria in blood samples. Light from a laser pointer is directed towards a blood sample. As a magnet is brought towards the sample, the light intensity will increase if the blood has been infected with malaria.

The portable device is about the size of a toaster. It “has been made simple enough to be used by everyone and is also compact and rugged so that it can be shipped worldwide.”

One of the principal researchers is working on making this commercially available.

Popular press account at CrazyEngineers.com. Scientific paper published May 21 2018: Rapid Diagnostic for Point-of-Care Malaria Screening, Samantha E. McBirney, Dongyu Chen, Alexis Scholtz, Hossein Ameri, and Andrea M. Armani, ACS Sensors Article ASAP, DOI: 10.1021/acssensors.8b00269

UK: New UK law provides stronger penalties, easier prosecution for aiming a laser at a vehicle


Click to read more...

US: Air Force wants 38,000 more laser eye protection glasses and visors

The U.S. Air Force on May 2 2018 issued a revised draft request for proposal (RFP), for 38,000 laser eye protection glasses and visors for aircrews.

While the original draft RFP was published for comments on March 27 2018, the revised request takes on additional urgency after the Pentagon on May 3 2018 accused China of aiming lasers at aircraft flying from a U.S. airbase in Djibouti. According to the Pentagon, two pilots had minor, short-term injuries as a result. The next day, China denied using lasers against aircraft in Dijibouti, calling them “groundless accusations.”

The current provider of the Air Force’s laser protection is Teledyne Scientific & Imaging, which was awarded a $30.1 million contract in July 2016 for 11.805 Aircrew Laser Eye Protection (ALEP) Block 2 glasses. The May 2 2018 RFP is for Block 3 glasses and visors. and will provide protection both during the day and at night from laser light.

The RFP’s Requirements Matrix does not specify the exact wavelengths to be blocked. It does say that the night version must have at least 50% visibility (Photopic Luminous Transmittance) and at least 14% for day versions. The document also states:

The ALEP Block 3 will not impair visual performance to the extent that it interferes with safety of flight or mission completion. The device will be visually compatible with the following devices/activities:
  • All USAF aircraft
  • Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS); Night Vision Goggles (NVG); Panoramic Night Vision Goggles (PNVG), Helmet Mounted Integrated Targeting (HMIT/HoBiT), and fielded/post- Milestone B visors and aircrew chemical warfare masks
  • Canopies/windscreens, HUD, and color cockpit displays
  • Detection, recognition, identification, and tracking of targets
  • Ability to distinguish terrain colors and geographical features
  • Cockpit interior lighting, external aircraft lights, and airfield lights
  • Ability to read charts, maps, and other printed materials in the cockpit
  • Ability to perform normal aircraft duties in cockpit

From Jane’s 360 and the Air Force Aircrew Laser Eye Protection Block 3 IDIQ Draft RFP. When navigating the FRP webpage, note that there is the Original Synopsis dated March 27 2018 and the “Changed” version dated May 2 2018. There may be subsequent versions as well. The Statement of Work and the Requirements Matrix are the primary documents in the RFP.

Ukraine: Developing countermeasures after 4 cases of laser eye injury

The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine will find countermeasures against Russian laser weapons, Interior Minister of Ukraine Arsen Avakov said, according to a May 5 2018 Interfax-Ukraine report.

“We already had several such cases (a laser injury of the eye retina) in the State Border Guard Service and in the National Guard. We are now developing countermeasures. We do not fully understand what they use, but we are already working on the instructions what it could be. We will install the appropriate filters, devices, use appropriate glasses,” Avakov said.

He reported on four cases of the laser injury of border guards and national guardsmen.

“The use of such weapons is a barbarous situation. We will discuss it at the international level,” Avakov emphasized.

From Kyiv Post

Canada: CDN $3M loan to MTI to manufacture laser eye protection glasses

The Canadian federal government has provided a CDN $3M loan to Metamaterial Technologies Inc. of Halifax, to manufacture laser protection eyewear in large quantities.

The company’s metaAIR eyewear uses holographic technology to reflect unwanted wavelengths of light while passing others. According to MTI founder and CEO George Palikaras, the clear glasses do not affect vision like current solutions that can be too dark or affect colors.

“What is innovative in our eyewear is that it does not affect the pilot’s vision. So when you put them on you can still see that green is green, blue is blue and red is red,” Palikaras said at a May 4 2018 press conference. In the photo below, Palikaras is wearing the glasses, which reflect some wavelengths but otherwise appear clear to the wearer.

MTI Palikaras glasses 01

The glasses’ ability to reflect unwanted wavelengths were demonstrated by blocking 99.9% of the green light from a handheld Class 4 (> 500 milliwatts) 532 nanometer laser:

MTI laser glasses 01

Palikaras said that besides pilots, MTI has had inquiries from the navy and from train operators. He cited incidents involving trains in Germany and Switzerland.

He said the glasses will be sold through MTI’s partner companies and directly to industry buyers.

As of May 2018, MTI has 27 employees, and is looking to hire 15 new full-time employees in production, marketing, research and development. MTI’s holographic technology is also used in developing aircraft windscreens with laser glare protection.

The $3M loan was provided by the Atlantic Canadian Opportunities Agency.

From the Chronicle Herald

Scotland: Scientists develop way to shoot laser light from eyes

Researchers have developed a membrane-thin laser emitter, widely reported in the press with headlines such as “Scientists Create Superman-like Eye Lasers.” When pumped by outside light, the membrane re-emits spectrally pure laser light.

The team from the University of St. Andrews demonstrated the new technology by putting a membrane laser onto a standard contact lens (photo a below), then placing this on a cow’s eye (photos b and c). A cow’s eye is similar to human eyes and is widely available as a byproduct of meat processing. The researchers then illuminated the eye with safe pulsed blue light (“Pump” in photo d) and “observed a well-defined green laser beam emerging from the eye” (“Far field emission” in photo d).

Pic 2018-05-04 at 10.18.16 AM

The diagram below shows the narrow wavelength of the emitted light (emission power on the left-hand scale is in “arbitrary units”).

Pic 2018-05-04 at 10.22.27 AM


The pump light minimum fluence to cause lasing was 58,800 W/cm², which is about one order of magnitude less than the maximum power density permitted by the ANSI 2000 standard for intentional and repeated ocular exposure. The researchers state that “a membrane laser on a contact lens could thus—under appropriate pumping conditions—be safely operated while being worn in the eye.”

Applications of the membrane laser include use as a security device affixed to banknotes or the human body (researchers also put a laser on a fingernail). A pumping beam is shone onto the substrate (banknote, eye, fingernail) to see if laser light of the expected wavelength is emitted. In the future, “[f]urther optimization of the DFB grating will likely allow lower lasing thresholds and facilitate LED pumping of membrane lasers. By combining recently developed roll-to-roll nanoimprint and organic ink jet printing technology, membrane lasers could be mass-produced with high reproducibility and at low cost.”

The researchers’ paper received widespread publicity, often with photos such as the one below. However, one of the authors, Prof. Malte Gather told the Express, “When we thought about this idea of making the laser membrane, someone suggested it was the first step towards making Superman real. It was meant as a joke but I thought it could be serious after all in certain applications. What is important for a normal human – not being Superman – is that our lasers are extremely efficient and hence can emit laser light that is not very bright. That excludes it from being used as a weapon but means that you could put it on to your eye without blinding yourself.”

Superman lasers eyes 2


From Nature Communications, volume 9, Article number: 1525 (2018), doi:10.1038/s41467-018-03874-w, available online here. Press release from University of St. Andrews. Typical popular press stories from U.S. News, USA Today, and the Express. A more detailed, science-oriented summary and discussion is from Optics and Photonics.

UK: Terror suspect said to tell ISIS sympathizers how to use lasers to bring down an aircraft

A man was charged with five counts of terrorist-related crimes, including sending links to a person which included information on how to shoot down an aircraft with a laser.

Rashid was also alleged to have encouraged ISIS supporters to commit terrorism against 4-year-old Prince George (son of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge), against a New York City halloween parade, and against the Burmese ambassador to the U.K.

Husnain Rashid, 32, of Nelson, Lancashire, pleaded not guilty to the charges on April 30 2018. Trial was set for May 14 2018.

From the Express

India: Laser show attacked as "insult to Lord Shiva"

A “laser” show projected onto a Hindu temple has raised the ire of the “Congress” party which opposes the government of Uttarakhand state in India. The show depicts the story of Shiva, one of the main deities of Hinduism.

In an April 28 2018 news story, a Congress party leader said the April 29 - May 4 show on Kedarnath Temple is an insult to Lord Shiva and his devotees.

The 25-minute show is privately funded by the Akshar Travels group of companies, in part to attract visitors and pilgrims to the temple, which is so old its builders and date of construction are not known.

From a YouTube video of the show, it appears there are no lasers used. Instead, the show consists of video projected onto the temple plus narrow lights similar to spotlights or the Clay Paky “Sharpy” moving beam light. The video projector’s light source could possibly be from lasers but even then it is not a “laser show” by the conventional definition of a show using laser beams and/or cartoon-like simple outline graphics.

Kedarnath Laser Light Show,, Char Dham Yatra - Adi Anant Shiv

From The Statesman and the Pioneer

New Zealand: Pilots want high-powered laser pointers banned

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association (NZALPA) is calling for a total ban on high-powered laser pointers after recent laser attacks which pilots described as "the most terrifying thing they've ever gone through".

The April 18 2018 call for prohibition follows two recent reported incidents:

  • On April 12 an Air New Zealand plane was hit by a laser strike near Kerikeri Airport at about 6:10 am, just after taking off
  • On April 15 there was a laser illumination of a Mount Cook Airline plane flying over the Canterbury town of Rolleston

There were approximately 169 laser/aircraft incidents in 2017, according to the Civil Aviation Authority.

NZALPA news from the New Zealand Herald, details on Kerikeri incident from Stuff Travel, details on Rolleston incident from The Press. Click the “read more” link for additional details in the NZALPA April 18 2018 press release.

Click to read more...

UK: NPAS says only 1.4% of laser perpetrators were prosecuted

From 2014 to March 2018, there were 279 incidents where lasers illuminated National Police Air Service helicopters. Of those, only three or four were prosecuted, according to the NPAS head of safety.

James Cunningham told Police Oracle in a March 21 2018 article that there were a number of reasons for the low prosecution rate, including being not being able to follow the laser perpetrator due to being focused on another job (e.g., completing the original mission).

Also, when lasers are pointed from a tower block area, the helicopter crew may not be able to locate the source.

In 2017 there were 67 incidents [not clear if this is NPAS only], compared with 70 in 2016 and 103 in 2015. Cunningham said the reduction is because NPAS is trying to locate and pursue laser perpetrators, and report the incidents as crime. He said the Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill being considered in Parliament is a “step in the right” direction that could lead to more prosecutions.

In December 2017, NPAS purchased laser-reducing glasses which can enable pilots to continue even when illuminated by laser light.

From Police Oracle

US: $8 billion space telescope aligned for shipping with $70 hardware store lasers

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is a $8.8 billion dollar satellite weighing 7 tons. When it came time to transport the telescope, a special 165,000 shipping container was built to be airlifted by a modified Air Force C-5C airplane.

The container was 100 feet long and had to fit with a clearance of about six inches on each side.

In testing the container’s fit in the C-5C, engineers originally used cameras to line up the container within 1/2 inch of the aircraft centerline. However, the camera method did not work in practice.

So lead project engineer John Andersen suggested using laser guides from a local home repair store. One laser would shine along the centerline of the floor, the other would mark the centerline of the back of the shipping container. As Anderson explained, “So, for about $70, we bought the laser guides, set them up, and we were able to load the container perfectly by following the laser lines.”

He added, “I’m glad we came up with a cheap solution to load the container on the aircraft using the lasers. It didn’t cost thousands of dollars to do it or a lot of time.”

The space telescope is scheduled to be launched from French Guiana in 2019.

From the Dayton Daily News

US: Coast Guard evaluating laser strike protection for cockpit use

The U.S. Coast Guard’s Research and Development Center (RDC) is nearing completion of a market research project “to identify viable laser eye protection solutions for integration into Coast Guard aircraft.”

The Coast Guard cannot use standard laser eye protection, such as is used in laboratories and industry, because it blocks too much light. One of the options the RDC is looking at is “a flexible optical filter that is reflective of lasers only and has just a slight tint, so it doesn’t interfere with the pilot’s visibility. The material can be applied to any transparent surface, such as the cockpit windshield, to deflect harmful laser beams and prevent them from reaching the inside of the cockpit.”

The chief of the Coast Guard’s Safety Program Management Division indicated eyewear or visors would be short-term solutions, and laser protective coatings for the aircraft would be a long-term solution.

According to Coast Guard information, “[o]nce finalized, the RDC findings will be integrated into an ongoing laser eye protection project the Office of Safety and Environmental Health is conducting in partnership with the Naval Aeromedical Research University in Dayton, Ohio, and the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.”

From a February 21 2018 blog post from the U.S. Coast Guard. Click the “Read more” link for the full blog text. Thanks to George Palikaras for bringing this to our attention.
Click to read more...

Canada: Looking at "all possible options" to fight laser incidents; perhaps a ban and mandatory labels

Minister Marc Garneau announced February 15 2018 that Transport Canada will explore “all possible options” to reduce the number of laser pointer/aircraft incidents, and will announce measures “in the coming weeks.”

The statement came after six laser incidents over two days earlier in the month, at Montreal’s Trudeau Airport. Garneau said these made him “very, very mad.”

A Transport official said the options include a ban on importation of powerful lasers, mandatory warning labels, and stronger penalties for those who are caught.

Garneau noted that it is hard to catch a laser perpetrator, making prosecutions “few and far between”. He believes that some people are not aware of the bright-light danger of laser light, but that others “know darn well what they’re doing” and are trying to “provoke something.”

Transport Canada currently has a program called “Not-a-Bright-Idea,” trying to educate the general public about the risks and legal consequences of aiming lasers at aircraft. Since implementing the program in May 2016, laser incident numbers have dropped. There were 590 reported incidents in 2015, 527 in 2016, and 379 in 2017.

Garneau said that despite the 28 percent drop, Transport Canada must do more, and that is why they are exploring other options.

From 660 News and AVweb

Note: In response to a LaserPointerSafety.com request, an email address for interested persons was provided: “Transport Canada is exploring options to reduce laser strikes. Canadians and industry members can provide information to the Civil Aviation Communications Centre by emailing: services@tc.gc.ca

Germany: Scientific study of laser pointer eye injuries finds 111 cases

The following abstract is from “Retinal Injury Following Laser Pointer Exposure: A Systematic Review and Case Series”, by Birtel et. al., in Deutsches Aerzteblatt International 2017; 114(49). The entire paper is worth reading for anyone interested in laser pointer injury numbers, causes, severity and treatment.


Background: Recent years have seen a marked increase in laser-pointer-related injuries, which sometimes involve severe retinal damage and irreversible visual impairment. These injuries are often caused by untested or incorrectly classified devices that are freely available over the Internet.

Methods: We reviewed pertinent publications retrieved by a systematic search in the PubMed and Web of Science databases and present our own series of clinical cases.

Results: We identified 48 publications describing a total of 111 patients in whom both acute and permanent damage due to laser pointers was documented. The spectrum of damage ranged from focal photoreceptor defects to macular foramina and retinal hemorrhages associated with loss of visual acuity and central scotoma. On initial presentation, the best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) was less than 20/40 (Snellen equivalent) in 55% of the affected eyes and 20/20 or better in 9% of the affected eyes. Treatment options after laser-pointer-induced ocular trauma are limited. Macular foramina and extensive hemorrhages can be treated surgically. In our series of 7 cases, we documented impaired visual acuity, central visual field defects, circumscribed and sometimes complex changes of retinal reflectivity, and intraretinal fluid. Over time, visual acuity tended to improve, and scotoma subjectively decreased in size.

Conclusion: Laser pointers can cause persistent retinal damage and visual impairment. In view of the practically unimpeded access to laser pointers (even high-performance ones) over the Internet, society at large now needs to be more aware of the danger posed by these devices, particularly to children and adolescents.

From Birtel J, Harmening WM, Krohne TU, Holz FG, Charbel Issa P, Herrmann P. Retinal injury following laser pointer exposure—a systematic review and case series. Dtsch Arztebl Int, 2017 DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2017.0831. Original in German, translation in English.


US: High-powered lasers can be obtained from inside a Christmas holiday laser projector

A hacker opened a three-color Christmas/holiday laser “star shower” type projector, to find high-powered blue and green laser diodes inside.

In a January 22 2018 Hackaday post, Tom Nardi purchased a “Home Accents Holiday Multi-Color Light Projector” from a hardware chain on clearance, marked down from $56 to just $14.

He removed the cover with four screws and found the parts inside used connectors instead of solder: “It’s like they wanted us to strip it for parts.”

The lasers were defocused inside. “…[A]t 3 meters the spots looked as large as dinner plates…. Once focused, it becomes pretty clear that these lasers are quite a bit more powerful than the <5 mW listed on the product’s warning sticker.”

Laser inside a Christmas projector
The green and blue laser diode modules inside the holiday projector

Nardi noted that the blue laser, when focused, was “easily able to burn pieces of paper and punch holes in black plastic.” He also estimated that the green laser was “at least twice as bright” as a laser pointer he owns that claims to be 50 mW: “…it certainly would not surprise me if they are both [green and blue] at least 100 mW.”

Nardi writes: “If your biggest take-away from this post is that the Home Depot is selling a 440 nm laser you can use to burn stuff, I certainly don’t blame you.”

From Hackaday. LaserPointerSafety.com has a page with more information, including measurements of the beam output of a Star Shower projector, here.

Commentary from LaserPointerSafety.com: In fairness to Home Accents, the FDA-required warning sticker has to do with the laser power of the unopened unit in its factory configuration. Class 3R (IIIa) laser projectors like this are not allowed in the U.S. to be over 5 mW output power. It may be that after going through the holographic diffraction grating that creates the stars, that the Home Accents projector meets Food and Drug Administration requirements for user access to laser light.

US: MIT develops system to locate laser perpetrators using as few as two cameras, from miles away

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory has developed a system that can provide the ground location of someone directing a laser beam into the sky. The intent is to help find persons aiming lasers at aircraft.

The Laser Aircraft Strike Suppression Optical System (LASSOS) uses two or more low-light CCD sensor cameras that observe the night sky, each with a star tracker that determines the attitude of the sensor. The cameras observe a volume of airspace such as around an airport. Beam locations are identified by analyzing the two (or more) different views to find the endpoint of the laser beam.

LASSOS system artwork 600w

In one test, LASSOS identified the ground location of a laser beam aimed into the sky, using two cameras located nine nautical miles away. The locations was determined within 30 seconds. The system was so accurate that it could differentiate between locations separated by only 5 meters.

A key attribute of LASSOS is that the final output is a Google Earth map with the beam and perpetrator location overlaid. This makes it easy for law enforcement to know the area they will be searching for the perpetrator.

An MIT press release gave no indication of potential installation and operational costs, and did not indicate any further plans for testing or implementation.

LASSOS was developed under Air Force Contract No. FA8721-05-C-0002 and/or FA8702-15-D-0001.

From a September 2017 MIT Lincoln Laboratory press release, reprinted below (click the “read more” link.) MIT also has a YouTube video of the system; the LASSOS description begins about 56 seconds into the video. Thanks to Greg Makhov, who brought this to our attention via a Tech Briefs article printed in January 2018.

Click to read more...

US: 6,753 laser/aircraft incidents reported to FAA in 2017; 9% lower than 2016

During 2017, there were 6,753 laser illumination incidents reported to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. This compares with 7,442 reports in 2016, and 7,703 reports in 2015. This is a 9% drop compared with 2016, and a 12% drop compared with 2015.


2017 laser strikes FAA 2004-2017 600w



Here is the same data, plotted to show the average number of illuminations per day, during each year:

2017 laser strikes FAA each day 600w

For additional charts and statistics, click the “read more” link.

Click to read more...

UK: "Call for evidence" response summarizes many groups' views on laser eye, plane incidents; sets forth actions

[NOTE: This news item includes commentary from LaserPointerSafety.com, as we feel the U.K. report is a must-read which gives important guidance on laser pointer hazards and actions.]

The U.K. government published on January 8 2018 a 14-page report on laser pointer safety and potential regulation. The report includes two new actions the government will take to reduce the number and risk of unsafe laser pointers:

     1) “strengthening safeguards to stop high-powered lasers entering the country”, and
     2) “working with manufacturers and retailers to [voluntarily] improve labeling.

Separately, the U.K. government published the Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill on December 20 2017. This makes it illegal to point a laser at vehicles, with a prison term of up to five years and an unlimited fine.

“Laser pointers: call for evidence - government response”


From August 12 to October 6 2017, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy opened a “Call for Evidence” consultation. BEIS set forth 19 questions, asking the public to give their views on laser pointer hazards and what actions to take.

The January 8 2018 government response summarizes the 265 responses received.

The report is especially useful because it incorporates the views of many disparate groups: pilots (64% of respondents), “concerned members of the public” (14%), professional laser safety advisors (9%), users of laser pointers (6%), ophthalmologists (6%), and Trading Standards authorities (2%).

The report then distills these views, finding surprising commonality. It is a good overview for the non-expert on two topics:

     1) Actual laser pointer hazards — separating fact from fear
     2) Potential actions to reduce the number and severity of laser pointer injuries and incidents — including what actions may not work (e.g., licensing).

We have summarized the findings below (click the “read more” link). However, reading the complete document is well worth the time of anyone interested in this issue.
Click to read more...

UK: Laser pen imports to be more restrictive

According to a January 8 2018 story in The Telegraph, “additional support will be offered to local authority port teams and border officials in order to help identify and confiscate the high powered lasers” that are said to be responsible for many of the over 1,200 incidents in 2017 when lasers were aimed at aircraft in Britain.

In addition, “new measures are also being introduced to tackle the sale of unsafe pointers, including more stringent testing.”

The move was supported by the British Air Line Pilots Association (BALPA).

It may help reduce the number of laser pen illuminations of trains (578 incidents were reported between April 2011 and November 2017) and eye injuries (more than 150 reported since 2013, mainly involving children).

Consumer Minister Margot James said the ministry is “going further than ever before” to police the sale of unsafe lasers.

The Argus quoted Professor John O’Hagan, of Public Health England’s laser and optical radiation dosimetry group.He said: “Over time we have become increasingly concerned about the dangers of growing numbers of unlabelled and incorrectly labelled high power laser pointers being bought by the public. It is tragic that we continue to see eye injuries, especially in children. Laser safety experts at Public Health England have worked closely with local authorities in stopping large numbers of these lasers reaching UK consumers. The extra protections proposed should help even further - if you have a laser and you don’t need it, remove the batteries and get rid of it.”

From
The Telegraph and The Argus. The stories seem to be a result of the U.K. government publishing, on January 8 2018, a response to their fall 2017 Call for Evidence. The government response included the increased import enforcement actions.

See also the December 2017 news of a new U.K. law that provides stronger penalties for aiming at aircraft. The new import/consumer initiative seems to be part of the government thrust against illegal and overpowered laser pens.

US: Nationwide recall of Santajoy Christmas laser lights sold at Walmart

The following is from a December 22 2017 Business Wire press release:

On Dec. 22, 2017, Santajoy initiated a nationwide recall of Galaxy Holiday Laser Lights and Northern Lights Holiday Laser Lights. These laser projection products may incorporate a laser having a higher output than intended and fail to comply with FDA performance standard requirements (21 CFR 1040.10 and 1040.11). These higher-power lasers have the potential for eye injury.

Consumers who purchased any of the 5,254 units of Galaxy Holiday Laser Lights and Northern Lights Holiday Laser Lights sold by Walmart between August 1, 2017 and October 25, 2017 should stop using them and return them to any Walmart store for a full refund.

The Galaxy Holiday Laser Lights and Northern Lights Holiday Laser Lights were manufactured from May through September 2017 and distributed from August through October 2017. The affected products sold by Walmart can be identified by the packaging photos and UPC numbers shown below.

Santajoy voluntarily recalled these products after becoming aware that the product presented a potential safety hazard and has notified the FDA of this action. There have been no reports of injury related to the use of these products. Santajoy is notifying the public through this press release, and Walmart is accepting the return of these products for a full refund.

Walmart Stores Inc. distributed these products nationwide. Consumers with questions may contact Walmart via telephone at 1-800-Walmart from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or online at www.corporate.walmart.com/recalls for more information.


2017 laser recall - Santajoy Galaxy Laser - Sold at Walmart 2017 laser recall - Santajoy Northern Lights Laser - Sold at Walmart

Note: As of January 1 2018, neither laser was listed on the Walmart Product Recalls webpage. The product recall also did not appear to be at FDA’s recalls webpage or enforcement report webpage, as of January 1. The only online source on that date was the December 22 2017 Business Wire press release, or a few publications and news sources such as KCTV that reprinted the Business Wire press release.

New Zealand: Laser pointer/aircraft incidents increase about 11% in 2017

In New Zealand for the first 11 months of 2017, there were 155 reported incidents where pilots were illuminated by laser light. This is greater than the totals for 2016 (152) and 2015 (104).

If this rate of 14 incidents per month holds for December, the 2017 total will be around 169. This would be an 11% increase over 2016.

The information comes from the Civil Aviation Authority which noted that most incidents occurred in metropolitan centers. The CAA deputy director of air transport and air worthiness, Mark Hughes, warned "People are not aware of the significance of it. It's sort of a lark, or a fun thing to do, not recognizing that actually they're causing a real safety issue and creating a danger for pilots and passengers…. It could cause an accident if the pilot is visually impaired at a critical phase of the flight.”

From Radio New Zealand

UK: New UK law to provide stronger penalties, easier prosecution for aiming a laser at a vehicle

The following press release is from the U.K. Department of Transport, published December 20 2017. The Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill is a pending law so as of this date, it is not in force. (UPDATED January 8 2018 - The bill will be read on January 9 2018 in the House of Lords. Thanks to John O’Hagan for this update.) (UPDATED May 10 2018 - The bill gained Royal Assent so now is a law, the Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Act. The act’s penalties take effect starting July 10 2018)

The text of the bill is here. A House of Lords Summary Briefing, giving some background, is here.


Tough new penalties for misuse of lasers

People who target transport operators with laser devices could be jailed for up to 5 years under new laws designed to protect the public.

The Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill, which was published today (20 December 2017), will also expand the list of vehicles, beyond just planes, which it is an offence to target with lasers.

Drivers of trains and buses, captains of boats and even pilots of hovercraft will be among those protected by the new legislation.

The bill will make it easier to prosecute offenders by removing the need to prove an intention to endanger a vehicle.

And it will remove the cap on the amount offenders can be fined – which is currently limited to £2,500 – paving the way for substantial sanctions. Fines could be issued in isolation or alongside a prison sentence.

The police will also be given additional powers to catch those responsible for the misuse of lasers.

Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg said:

     “Lasers can dazzle, distract or blind those in control of a vehicle, with serious and potentially even fatal consequences.”

     “The government is determined to protect pilots, captains, drivers and their passengers and take action against those who threaten their safety.”

Alongside their existing powers of arrest and the ability to search a person once arrested, officers will no longer need to establish proof of intention endanger to a vehicle, aircraft or vessel, making it easier to prosecute swiftly. It will be an offence to shine or direct a laser towards a vehicle if it dazzles or distracts the operator, if done deliberately or if reasonable precautions to avoid doing so are not taken.
Click to read more...

US: FAA issues warning about holiday laser lights

From a November 2017 press release by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration:

Enjoy Your Holiday Laser-light Display Responsibly
Each holiday season for the past several years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has received reports from pilots who said they were distracted or temporarily blinded by residential laser-light displays.

The FAA's concerns about lasers – regardless of the source – is that they not be aimed at aircraft in a way that can threaten the safety of a flight by
distracting or blinding the pilots. People may not realize that systems they set up to spread holiday cheer can also pose a potential hazard to pilots flying overhead.

So if you’re going to install a holiday laser-light system, please make sure the lights are hitting your house and not shining up into the sky. It may not look like the lights go much farther than your house, but the extremely concentrated beams of laser lights actually reach much further than most people think.

If the FAA becomes aware of a situation where a laser-light display affects pilots, we start by asking the owner to adjust them or turn them off. However, if someone's laser-light display repeatedly affects pilots despite previous warnings, that person could face an FAA civil penalty.


Note: The FAA press release was reprinted in a number of news sources including KUSA, the News Tribune and SFGate.

LaserPointerSafety.com has a
separate story about the number of FAA laser incident reports in 2017 due to actual or suspected holiday light displays.

US: FDA issues warning about laser toys

On November 24 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a “Consumer Update” warning of the dangers of laser toys.

FDA gave these examples of laser toys:
  • Lasers mounted on toy guns that can be used for “aiming”;
  • Spinning tops that project laser beams while they spin;
  • Hand-held lasers used during play as “light sabers”; and
  • Lasers intended for entertainment that create optical effects in an open room.

According to the Consumer Update, “Toys with lasers are of particular interest to the FDA because children can be injured by these products. Because they are marketed as toys, parents and kids alike may believe they’re safe to use.”

The FDA had tips for safe use, including:
  • Do not aim at persons or animals
  • Do not aim at any vehicle, aircraft or shiny surface; or persons playing sports
  • Children’s toy lasers should be Class I.
  • Children should not be allowed to own or use laser pointers. Pointers are not toys.
  • Do not buy or use any laser that emits more than 5 milliwatts.
  • See a health care professional in case of a known or suspected laser eye injury.

The FDA’s health warning was referenced in numerous news and publication sources over the 2017 holiday season.

From the FDA Consumer Update, “Laser Toys: How to Keep Kids Safe”. FDA also linked to a 2015 FDA YouTube video on laser pointer safety.

For background, LaserPointerSafety.com has a series of webpages about laser toys which begin with a summary
here.

US: Artist uses sixteen 1.2 watt lasers to make "wormhole" sculpture

An art installation in New York City uses sixteen 1.2 watt lasers to create a wormhole shape.

Rita McBride Particulates laser wormhole
Particulates by Rita McBride

Spectators are prevented from accessing the beam by means of a fence-like barrier.

Artist Rita McBride created Particulates out of her interests in space, time travel and quantum physics. From the exhibition brochure:

     “The 2017 commission by Rita McBride, Particulates, features a type of high-intensity laser that is normally reserved for industrial, military, and scientific use to harness light’s efficient capacity to articulate space. At first glance the lasers clearly define the geometry of a hyperboloid of revolution, a hyperbola rotated around a single axis. Yet the contours of this shape are dispersed by the constant motion of particulate matter—ambient dust and molecules of water circulating in the air—that becomes visible as it passes through the beams of light….. However, the real and imaginative spaces conjured by Particulates remain elusive, and are protected by a series of custom carbon-fiber panels, titled Guidance “Barriers” (2017), which the artist designed to keep us at a lawful distance.”

It is on exhibition at the Dia:Chelsea from October 27 2017 until June 2 2018. CT Lasers provided technical support.

From Engadget. Photo by the artist.

US: FDA recalls certain X-Laser light show projectors

On November 18 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced recall Z-2870-2017 of X-Laser Laser Light Show projector models Aurora, Caliente Aurora, PSX-400, Mobile Beat Max, Mobile Beat Max MKII, X-Beam, and Hawk 500, for failure to comply with performance standard requirements (21 CFR 1040.10(f)) when operated in the user accessible auto and music modes of operation.

FDA listed the following actions:

X-Laser LLC will bring into compliance:
     1. All purchasers and associated dealers of affected LLS projector models will be notified by mail and email of their failure to comply with the performance standard. The notification will follow the format and include the information required by 21 CFR 1003.21. Those that do not respond within 14 days will be notified a second time. Those not responding to the second attempt will be notified again every 6 months for the next 2 years. Non-responsive dealers will be ineligible for future orders.
     2. All affected LLS projectors will be repaired by removing the auto and music modes from the dipswitch accessible settings, after which, these modes will only be accessible through the DMX connection. These actions, including transportation of the LLS projector, will be made free of charge.
     3. All LLS projector models that X-Laser receives, regardless of purpose, will be checked for dipswitch accessible auto or music modes and repaired if needed.
     4.Corrective actions will be completed within 120 days of receipt of this letter.
For further questions please call (866) 702-7768.

For additional details from X-Laser, click the “read more” link. Click to read more...

US: FDA recommends against using Laserworld and Ray Technologies laser projectors

On November 7 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a Safety Communication “recommending [that] entertainment venues, and other laser light show manufacturers stop using Laserworld and RTI [Ray Technologies International] Class IIIb and Class IV laser projectors because they lack required safety features that protect the user and general public from harmful exposures to high-powered laser radiation. Missing features can include a manual reset mechanism and remote interlock connector. These features prevent unintended laser exposures that can be harmful.”

Laserworld set up a special website, www.cdrh.info, with a statement and information from their viewpoint.

The International Laser Display Association published guidance for ILDA Members and others who are doing shows in the U.S. with Laserworld and RTI projectors.

New Zealand: Researcher considers drone-mounted lasers to burn weeds

New Zealand researcher Dr. Kioumars Ghamkhar is studying lasers to determine their ability to target and kill plants that are identified, through their chemical spectrum, as weeds. The next step would be to mount the weed detector and laser equipment on drones. They would then kill the weeds from the air.

He said a drone-mounted laser could take 2-3 hours to do a weed-killing job that would take a farmer 2-3 days.

Ghamkhar hopes to start testing the lasers in the lab, in early 2018, with drone-mounted laser tests in the late summer or early fall of 2018. The project has been funded with NZD $1,000,000 for three years.

The researcher noted possible laser-related hazards: "There are issues we would have to consider such as heat generated by the lasers, and the risk of starting fire, and we'll be very conscious of this particularly where there are dry days or drought conditions. We'll also be looking at using a group of small lasers to direct at the weed, as opposed to one large and powerful laser that might generate more heat."

From an October 4 2017 story at Stuff.co.nz

Worldwide: Computer presentation remote has no laser pointer due to brightness, safety concerns

A maker of computer accessories has developed a remote presentation device without a laser pointer, “to help address the growing need for a presentation tool that can be used where laser devices are not allowed.”

Kensington’s new $99 Ultimate Presenter with Virtual Pointer instead uses a software program to create an on-screen dot to highlight PowerPoint and similar computer presentations.

The company noted that “[b]right LED screens or safety regulations can pose limitations with traditional lasers.” A spokesperson said “The presenter overcomes the screen limitations and regulatory restrictions of traditional laser pointers….”

The screen limitations referred to are that bright screens can wash out a laser dot, especially a relatively dim dot such as the one from a Class 2 (<1mW) red pointer.

Pic 2017-09-30 at 12.46.40 PM
Screenshot from a Kensington video. In the background, the red dot is the software “laser pointer” dot.


Kensington also continues to sell a line of presentation remotes that use red or green laser pointers.

From a September 26 2017 Kensington press release

UK: UPDATED - BAE Systems developing laser-reducing film for pilots; lab tests successful

Aerospace and defense contractor BAE Systems is developing a film to block laser light from pilots and cockpits.

According a September 12 2017 BAE press release, a “series of successful laboratory trials have proven our method is effective against a wide range of laser wavelengths.”

BAE researchers told LaserPointerSafety.com: “The film, when installed can be programmed with a number of critical wavelengths (typically three). This film can be upgraded at a later date by either replacing it entirely or adding on a new layer retrospectively to give protection against a new or emerging threat.”

They noted that the film has been measured as having 70% visible light transmission in a multi-wavelength blocking configuration.

The BAE film may be similar in general concept to another film from Metamaterial Technologies Inc. which has been tested by Airbus and is entering the production and deployment stages.

More information about anti-laser windscreen film in general and the MTI version specifically is here.

A press release from BAE is printed below. BAE also made available a graphic with similar information; click the blue “Click to read more…” link to see these.

UPDATED September 13 2017 We reached out to BAE for additional details about their film; answers are after the press release and graphic.
Click to read more...

US: FAA requests comments by Oct 31 2017 regarding form used to report outdoor laser operations

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is asking for public comment on Form AC 7140-1, “Notice of Outdoor Laser Operations” (which is part of FAA Advisory Circular 70-1).

The form is filled out by commercial and professional users who want to operate lasers outdoors, including laser light shows, observatories, LIDAR operators, and satellite communications.

According to FAA, there have been about 400 laser operators who filled out the form. The agency also says it takes 4 hours to gather information needed for the form and to fill it out.

FAA needs to periodically review whether the form is useful and whether the 4-hour estimate is accurate. The deadline for comments is October 30 2017.

The August 31 2017 Federal Register notice states:

       “In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, FAA invites public comments about our intention to request the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval to reinstate a previously approved information collection. In order for the FAA to ensure safety it proposes to collect information from potential outdoor laser operators. The FAA will review the proposed laser activity against air traffic operations and verify that the laser operation will not interfere with air traffic operations.”

The notice details what information specifically is requested:

       “You are asked to comment on any aspect of this information collection, including (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for FAA's performance; (b) the accuracy of the estimated burden; (c) ways for FAA to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information collection; and (d) ways that the burden could be minimized without reducing the quality of the collected information. The agency will summarize and/or include your comments in the request for OMB's clearance of this information collection.”

Form AC 7140-1 does not impact laser pointer users per se, but it can affect professional outdoor laser users.

  • The most impacted are outdoor laser light show operators. They are required by the Food and Drug Administration to submit their shows to FAA, and to receive a “letter of non-objection” from FAA, before FDA will grant permission (a “variance”) for a show.

  • All other outdoor users are requested to submit Form AC 7140-1, but are not legally required to do so. This is because FAA has no regulatory authority to restrict outdoor laser usage. There may be organizations such as NASA or observatories that have internal requirements to submit AC 7140-1 and receive a letter of non-objection. This is usually done in the spirit of cooperation and/or to help avoid liability issues in case of problems.

Additional information, including instructions on how to submit comments, is at the Federal Register notice webpage. LaserPointerSafety.com has a webpage with suggested corrections to Advisory Circular 70-1, and advice on filling it out.

US: Apple repair guidelines include laser damage to iPhone cameras

Apple iPhone cameras are damaged often enough by laser light that the company has repair guidelines for replacing the camera.

A few pages and graphics were leaked from a 22-page Apple document, the March 3 2017 “Visual/Mechanical Inspection Guide,” including this page showing the service eligibility for common problems:

Pic 2017-09-05 at 2.21.43 PM

The page lists common items such as liquid damage, broken screens, cracks — and “Damage due to laser contact with camera.”

Pic 2017-09-05 at 2.21.24 PM


It is likely that elsewhere in the leaked document are details about the laser damage, along with other example photos. However, only a few pages of the document were publicly revealed.

A page like this was first revealed in 2014. The document leaked September 1 2017 covers Apple’s most current iPhones: 6, 6S, 7 and associated “Plus” versions.

From Business Insider via MacRumors.

US: Utah National Guard reluctant to report laser cases to FBI, apparently after suspect's suicide

Utah National Guard pilots have not reported incidents where lasers were aimed at their aircraft since at least September 2009, according to an August 30 2017 news story in the South Valley (Utah) Journal.

In an interview, Chief Warrant Officer Robert Williams discusses the hazards of laser interference with pilots. He recounts an episode in mid-July 2017 where he and a co-pilot were lased. They identified the source of the laser beam. Ground officers found that the perpetrator was a teenager. Williams said “We specifically requested that the cops not get the FBI involved. I don’t want any kids going to jail or getting felony charges on their record.”

He added, “When the cop showed up at the door and explained to the dad what was going on, the dad broke the kid’s laser there on the spot.”

The reluctance to report appears to stem from a 2009 lasing incident which was reported to the FBI. A 30-year-old man, Joshua Don Park, “on a whim” decided to aim a cat laser pointer at a Utah National Guard helicopter. Park told arresting officers that he was unaware the laser’s light could interfere with pilots’ operations. The Journal story says Park “faced up to five years in prison. [Another source says he faced up to 20 years.] Tragically, he committed suicide shortly before he could be sentenced.”

The story continues, “Since that sobering incident, no Utah National Guard pilots have reported lasing incidents to the FBI—but not for lack of occurrences. ‘My unit alone has had two incidents in the past three months,’ said Williams.”

From the South Valley Journal. More details about the original February 2009 lasing and September 2009 suicide are here.

UK: 19 questions UK government is asking advice on by October 6 2017

The following are the 19 questions the U.K. government asked on August 12 2017, regarding use and misuse of laser pointers. This comes from their 23-page Call for Evidence PDF document.

Interested parties are requested to submit answers to these questions — and any free-form answers as well — via an online survey, by postal mail, or by sending an email by October 6 2017.

Additional information and links about the U.K. call for evidence are here.

1.
What do you consider to be the scale of the problem with laser pointers? Is the problem specific to high-powered laser pointers (those with a strength of 5 mW or above), or a particular class of laser pointers? What evidence do you have to support your view?

2. How well do you think the current legislation is working? Is the current guidance on safe use of laser products sufficient?

3. Is the current guidance on manufacturing and importing laser pointers sufficient?

4. Do you have any further evidence about the nature and misuse of laser pointers?

5. What legitimate uses are there for high-powered laser pointers?

6. Have you ever purchased, sold or made a laser pointer? If so, can you provide more information about where you bought or sold the product (or its component parts), and what the intended use was?

7. (Enforcement Bodies) Do you know/can you estimate the number of manufacturers, retailers, importers and/or distributers within your Local Authority area?

8. What strength laser pointers do you make/sell? What is the price of each strength laser pointer that you make/sell? Is this a seasonal product (e.g. do you sell more at Christmas)? How many do you sell annually?

9. What is your target market?

10. (If you are an enforcement authority) Have you undertaken any enforcement actions with respect to laser pointers, and if so what were they?

11. (If you are an enforcement authority) What do you estimate as being the level of compliance with the General Product Safety Regulations for laser pointers in your area? On what evidence do you base this?

12. Do you think a licensing system to control the sale and purchase of laser pointers would be effective?

13. What do you estimate the costs of implementing a licensing system to be? How should these be recovered?

14. How might a licensing regime operate? Who should administer a licensing system? Who should enforce it?

15. Are you aware of any other licensing systems in the UK or in other countries – either for laser pointers or for similar products - which might provide the Government with a useful comparison?

16. Do you think that a ban on advertising laser pointers would be effective? Why?

17. How else might Government and other public authorities increase public awareness about the potential dangers of laser pointers?

18. How else do you think that the supply of high-powered laser pointers could be restricted? Why?

19. Do you have any other comments or views which might inform the Government’s recommendations?

UK: Government asks for ways to crack down on laser misuse; deadline is October 6

The U.K. government on August 12 2017 issued “a call for evidence into the regulation of laser pointers, including the potential value of retail licensing schemes, advertising restrictions, and potential restrictions on ownership in order to address serious public safety concerns.”

The government is concerned both with hazards from aiming laser pointers at pilots, drivers and train operators, and the potential for retinal damage among consumers when high-powered lasers are aimed into eyes.

They opened a consultation asking for suggestions for eight weeks, starting August 12 and closing at 11:45 pm on October 6 2017. A 23-page Call For Evidence PDF document is posted at the open consultation webpage. It includes background information on laser hazards and misuse.

There are 19 specific questions asked by the government, plus it is possible to respond with free-form text. Persons can respond via an online survey, by postal mail, or by sending an email.

The full text of the government’s press release is below.

From the UK government press release “Government crackdown on misuse of laser pointers”, the open consultation “Laser pointers: Call for evidence” webpage, and the call for evidence online survey webpage.
   Click to read more...

US: Mosquito-targeting laser still not ready

In a February 2010 TED talk, former Microsoft chief technical officer Nathan Myhrvold demonstrated a mosquito-targeting laser intended for use in disease prevention. (The device is demonstrated using a green laser in this video, starting at about 13:25.)

How has the “Photonic Fence” device progressed? The short answer is that it is still being developed. It is just about to have its first excursion outside the lab.

In a 2,500-word article in the July 24 2017 New York Magazine entitled “Where’s Our Laser-Shooting Mosquito Death Machine?” writer Carl Swanson looked into the Photonic Fence progress.

Swanson visited Myhrvold’s company Intellectual Ventures. He watched a demonstration which he says “is, as you might expect, enormously satisfying. There is the laser itself, aimed by a mirror that is synced to a camera that identifies the pest marked for death based on its shape and size and the distinctive beat of its wing, and a monitor that allows you to watch its autonomous targeting. And it does so fast: 100 milliseconds is the time allotted to see the bug and shoot it for the 25 milliseconds it takes to kill it.” He said the system has killed more than 10,000 mosquitos in the lab.

But the mosquito-targeting system is still in the testing phase. Swanson notes “It’s taken years of development to figure out how to continuously track and identify a specific type of insect and then dispatch it safely and efficiently.”

Eye safety for humans is one consideration: “For instance, for the demonstration, I had to wear protective goggles since that type of laser is not safe for your eyes; I was assured that when it’s market-ready, the laser they deploy will not potentially blind human passersby.”

A major barrier is cost: “And no one has yet worked out how to make the device cheap enough to be useful in the places it is most needed, places where most people’s mosquito-defense system consists of sleeping under nets every night.”

The system “will finally be tested later this summer in Florida, in a screened-in structure, against the Asian citrus psyllid, an invasive bug that is devastating the state’s orchards.” If that goes well, it will then be tested in the open.

From New York Magazine

US: 2017 laser incidents on pace to be lower than 2016

As of June 30 2017, there were 2,933 laser illuminations of aircraft reported to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. This is 15% fewer than the 3,441 illuminations reported as of June 30 last year (2016).

The chart below shows cumulative laser illuminations for the period Jan. 1 - June 30, for each of the past 10 years. The blue 2017 line shows that thus far there have been fewer incidents in 2017 than in 2016, but more than in 2015.

Cumulative laser illuminations Jan 1 - June 30 for 2007-2017 741w

How to read this chart: Each year starts with 0 illumination reports. Each colored line then plots the cumulative (year-to-date) illumination reports for that year since January 1. For example, looking at the 2016 top green line, there were about 1000 reports between Jan. 1 and Feb. 12 (where the green 2016 line crosses the 1000 horizontal line). In contrast, in 2013 (purple line) there were roughly 500 reports between Jan. 1 and Feb. 12 (where the purple 2013 line crosses the 500 horizontal line).

Based on historical data, LaserPointerSafety.com projects that there will be around 7,200 laser illuminations reported to the FAA in 2017. This would be about 4% lower than the 7,442 reports in 2016, and about 7% lower than the 7,703 reports in 2015.

2004-2017 FAA incidents per year 50pct


The next chart shows the number of laser illuminations per day. Each line is a different year. The lines have been smoothed by averaging the previous 30 days (a 30-day moving average). For this reason, the lines do not start until January 30.

This shows trends within a year. For example, in both 2016 and 2017 the number of reports dropped significantly in early May, while in 2015 the number of reports was more constant during that period.


Laser illuminations Jan 1 2017 - June 30 2017 741w


The chart below shows the number of laser illuminations for every single day between Jan. 1 2007 and April 29 2017. The light spiky line shows each day’s illumination reports. This number can vary widely from one day to the next. The dark line is a 60-day moving average. This helps smooth out the data, in order to show longer-term trends.

Laser-illuminations-Jan-1-2007---Apr-29-2017 - colorized 1024


From these charts, it can be seen that illumination reports grew slowly, or even declined, in the first few months of 2015, 2016 and 2017. However, in the final months of 2015 and 2016, the number of illumination reports picked up significantly. The estimate above (that there will probably be around 7,200 reports in 2017) takes this effect into account.

Statistical note: The careful reader will see that the blue 2017 line in the first chart falls between the 2016 and 2015 lines. Yet LaserPointerSafety.com predicts 2017 as a whole (Jan-Dec) will be lower than both 2016 and 2015. This is because we used all ten years, 2007-2016, to estimate the year-end total as a proportion of the first six months. Both a simple average of these ten years, and a weighted average — where more recent years have a larger effect — indicate that the 2017 total will be in the ballpark of 7,200 illuminations. In other words, 2015 was an atypical year where illuminations in the last eight months of the year grew much faster than any other year.

US: Navy tests green beam across Chesapeake Bay

The U.S. Navy announced that they would be testing a green laser across the width of the Chesapeake Bay in the evenings on June 26-30 2017.

The information was released to help reassure any residents who might see the beam. The Navy called the beam “eye-safe” and said the beam would be turned off if an aircraft or watercraft is within 300 meters.

The purpose of the test is to “evaluate the performance of a laser system at long range over water,” according to a spokesperson. The laser would be aimed from the source to a target as far as 13 miles away.

There was speculation that the laser was 150 kilowatts, based on an earlier speech by the vice chief of naval operations. However, the spokesperson said the June 27 test would not be using the 150 kW laser.

From the Baltimore Sun, WTOP and the town of Morningside, Maryland

Taiwan: CAA considering restrictions after 8 laser incidents in first six months of 2017

Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration is preparing an amendment to the Civil Aviation Act, to make it illegal to aim laser beams at aircraft.

In previous years the Air Navigation and Weather Service had 4-5 reports per year of laser interference. As of late June 2017, there had been 8 reports.

The most recent incident happened June 21 2017, when China Airlines flight 163 was landing at Taoyuan International Airport. Laser beams were coming from near to the runway. The pilot “requested that the interference be moved, after which the flight landed safely.”

From the Taipei Times

UK: Pilots upset after proposed anti-laser law dropped

The following is the text of a June 22 2017 press release by the British Airline Pilots’ Association. The formatting has been changed slightly from the original.

Despite “dangerously high” figures on laser attacks on aircraft, the new Government has dropped plans to introduce tougher laws, a move which the UK pilots’ association says is “infuriating and dangerous”.

BALPA had been campaigning for the tougher laws in response to consistently high reports of laser attacks on planes year on year. Last year’s figures stood at more than 1,200 reported attacks.

Before the
[June 8] general election, the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) was pleased to see a specific laser offence included in the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill. The new offence proposed that offenders could face up to five years in prison if they shone a laser at an aircraft.

However, BALPA has now learned that the Bill will not now include the laser regulations.

The association has constantly warned that shining a laser at aircraft is extremely dangerous, particularly in critical phases of flight such as take-off and landing, putting the lives of passengers at risk. BALPA General Secretary, Brian Strutton, said:

“It is infuriating to see the changes we’d hoped for appear to have been discarded. Not having this legislation is dangerous and puts the lives of passengers and crew at risk.

“The proposed tougher laws received cross-party support so it’s baffling that they have been dropped.

“When a laser pen is pointed at an aircraft it can dazzle and distract the pilot, and has the potential to cause a crash. Last year’s incident figures remain dangerously high, with the equivalent of more than three laser attacks a day across the UK.”


The Guardian has a June 22 2017 story about BALPA’s criticism, with additional information and statistics on U.K. laser incidents.

An April 20 2017 analysis of the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill, written by the law firm of Addleshaw Goddard LLP, had this description:

The Bill makes it an offence to direct or shine a laser beam at a vehicle in such a way as to dazzle or distract the person driving, piloting or navigating that vehicle.

This offence is not completely new. Under section 225 of the Air Navigation Order 2016, it was an offence to 'dazzle or distract' the pilot of an aircraft and under section 240 it was an offence to 'recklessly or negligently act in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft, or any person in an aircraft'. Many have argued these offences are insufficient as they are limited to aircraft, and are summary offences only which restrict police powers. The new offence therefore applies to all 'Vehicles', which are defined as anything used for travel by land, water or air and so will apply in relation to trains, buses and other forms of transport. The penalties remain the same: a maximum fine and imprisonment for up to 5 years.

However, many still consider the new offence insufficient. A number of organisations and rights groups wanted lasers to be reclassified as offensive weapons when used in some circumstances, particularly following the failure last year of a Private Members Bill which had sought to make the sale of high wattage lasers unlawful in certain circumstances.


Canada: Laser protection windscreen film offered by Airbus subsidiary for civil aviation

Aviation parts supplier Satair Group agreed on June 21 2017 to market metaAIR anti-laser protective film for aircraft windscreens. The “metamaterial optical filter” reflects unwanted laser light while having high visibility for other desired light wavelengths. It can work even against high laser powers, and beams coming from wide angles.

Satair Group is a subsidiary of Airbus which offers parts management, service and support for all types of aircraft. Satair expects to receive a Supplemental Type Certificate from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the European Aviation Safety Agency, and Transport Canada Civil Aviation in early 2018. Other jurisdictions will follow.

The metaAIR film was invented and is manufactured by Metamaterial Technologies Inc. (MTI) of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The company previously worked with Airbus to evaluate, verify and test metaAIR for use in Airbus aircraft; initially for the A320 family. The Satair agreement will bring metaAIR to all commercial aircraft including Airbus and Boeing.

From a June 21 2017 MTI press release. For more details, click the link below for an interview with MTI’s George Palikaras, discussing the technology and this agreement.
Click to read more...

Worldwide: 3D printing creates mechanical "laser show" using a pointer

Software engineer Evan Stanford created a mechanical “laser show” using 3D-printed gears, cams and supports.

It works by putting a standard pen-type laser pointer between two cams. Cranking a handle turns the cams which bounce the laser pointer up/down and left/right to create projected patterns:

Evan Stanford mechanical laser show 01


By using different cam shapes, different patterns can be projected:

Evan Stanford mechanical laser show cams

Instructions and plans are available online, including Thingiverse 3D printing files.

Stanford noted “At this point I think it is unlikely I will continue the project. But if I did, here’s what I could do:” He then listed adding blinds to make discontinuous patterns, making the device motor driven, and adding a web service to make it easier to create new cam patterns.

From Evan Stanford’s Hackaday.io page, posted in mid-June 2017

US: Editorial wants warning labels on lasers

A May 11 2017 editorial in the Press of Atlantic City advocates “an education campaign and warning labels” for lasers sold to consumers.

The editorial notes that in the late 2000s, New Jersey beachfront cities had problems with widespread laser sales — followed by widespread misuse. Ocean City NJ banned laser sales and possession in the summer of 2010, as did another Jersey Shore city, North Wildwood, a few years later.

The paper wrote “Apparently, coverage of the incidents and bans was enough to spread the word that pointing lasers at aircraft is dangerous and illegal, as incidents in the area greatly diminished.”

The editorial then noted that despite this local decrease, there are “still about 7,000 reports of lasers aimed at aircraft each year [in the U.S.].”

The article concluded with the suggestion to “[r]equire a warning about the five years in prison and $250,000 fine on every laser for sale (on the packaging or on a handout to the buyer).”

From the Press of Atlantic City

US: New Michigan law targets directed energy aimed at aircraft, trains

A new law in Michigan will take aim at perpetrators who aim laser pointers at aircraft. The penalty is up to 5 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The bill was signed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder May 9 2017 and will take effect 90 days later.

The bill was introduced February 27 2017 after a number of laser pointer incidents in the state.

Although there is a similar federal law (5 years in federal prison and fine up to $250,000), the legislators who introduced the Michigan bill said the state can now prosecute, whether or not federal officials choose to prosecute. Prior to passage of the law, state or local law enforcement could not arrest laser perpetrators unless they committed a separate offense under state or local law.

The bill makes it illegal to intentionally aim “a beam of directed energy emitted from a directed energy device at an aircraft or into the path of an aircraft or a moving train.” The bill defines “directed energy device” as “any device that emits highly focused energy and is capable of transferring that energy to a target to damage or interfere with its operation. The energy from a directed energy device would include the following forms of energy:

-- Electromagnetic radiation, including radio frequency, microwave, lasers, and masers.
-- Particles with mass, in particle-beam weapons and devices.
-- Sound, in sonic weapons and devices.”

As with the federal law, there are exceptions in the bill for FAA and DOD authorized users, and for persons using a laser emergency signaling device to send an emergency distress signal.

There were actually two bills introduced by Republican state representatives Laura Cox and Tom Barrett. House Bill 4063 made it a crime to aim directed energy at aircraft or a moving train. HB 4064 also adds the laser provisions to sentencing guidelines.

HB 4063 originally passed the House March 16 2017 by a vote of 107-1. An amended version passed the Senate April 25, 111-37 and passed the House May 2, 105-2. It was sent to the Governor on May 4.

From the Detroit News (March 16 story, May 2 story), U.S. News and World Report, and the Michigan legislature website page for HB 4063.