A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
Information and studies from FAA and others
This group of webpages contains more detailed information about laser incidents and how they affect pilots. Click on the link to find summaries and links to the original sources.
- Documents from SAE G10T - Information and recommendations on numerous aspects of laser/aviation safety, from a leading group studying this problem.
- 2001 FAA study of laser pointer effects on vision and aviation safety - “Laser pointers have caused ocular injury and may compromise aviation safety when used to illuminate aircraft in critical phases of flight.”
- 2003 FAA simulator study - On a challenging “short final” approach, lasers at the glare and flashblindness levels caused problems such as a missed approach on roughly 25% of landings.
- 2006 FAA incident review - The FAA looked at the 90 laser/aircraft incidents that occurred during calendar year 2004 and January 2005. The review listed 13 incidents affecting the pilot’s vision. It goes into detail of one incident which resulted in retinal swelling but not “true, cellular tissue damage.”
- 2008 FAA windscreen study - A technical report which may be of interest regarding how much infrared light goes through an aircraft windscreen. (We are not aware of studies on visible light.)
- 2009 comparison of searchlights to lasers - Very bright searchlights aimed at a helicopter caused few problems for the pilot. In contrast, a 3.5mW green laser pointer caused serious glare, along with flashblindness and afterimages.
- 2010 FAA 5-year incident study - A December 2010 FAA study of 2,492 events where civilian aircraft were illuminated by lasers in the United States, from Jan. 1 2004 to Dec. 31 2008.
- 2010 FAA incident data analysis - A January 2011 FAA press release announcing that there were 2,836 reports of lasers during 2010. LaserPointerSafety.com has analyzed FAA’s list of the top airports reporting laser events, to find that on average, there was a laser incident roughly once every 8,300 takeoffs and landings.
- 2013 FAA helicopter study - An April 2013 FAA study of helicopter illumination incidents found that most were at low altitude (below 2,000 feet) and that adverse effects to the pilot occurred in 21% of helicopter illuminations versus only 9.4% of fixed-wing illuminations.
- 2015 Nanocomposites coating study - A May 2015 study in the Journal of Aviation Technology and Engineering, looking at coatings for aircraft windscreens that could reduce laser light intensity. Reductions of 36% to 88% were found.
- 2016 Australia Transport Safety Bureau pilot incapacitation study - A February 2016 study which found that from 2010 to 2014, laser strikes were the second leading cause of flight crew incapacitations, after gastrointestinal illnesses. Contains statistics on the number of incapacitations and on the impact the incapacitations had on flight duties.
- 2018 SAE G10OL committee laser mitigation recommendations. SAE document ARP6378, entitled “Guidance on Mitigation Strategies Against Laser Illumination Effects”, has three main parts. 1) Advice for pilots on how to recognize and recover from laser illumination, 2) recommendations for pilot training including simulator time, and 3) information on whether and how to use Laser Glare Protection such as eyewear and windscreen film.
- 2019 study: "Laser Eye Protection and Color Recognition and Discrimination in Aviation" - A paper published October 2019 finding that the two tested types of laser eye protection (red/green and red/green/blue) did not adversely affect color recognition, and had only a slight effect on discriminating between shades of a color. Conclusion: "This exploratory study found that the use of the investigated LEP did not have a significant effect on color recognition and this could mean that pilots using this LEP can retain near-accurate color recognition abilities."
Additional information from FAA and other aviation interests includes the 2009 FAA/Air Force video “Aircraft Laser Illumination”, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets listing the laser incidents for each year since 2010, and various publications on the Links page.