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Lasers: A New Method Of Terror?

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From here:

Federal officials are investigating reports from two pilots who say bright lights were aimed from the ground into their cockpits as they headed into the Colorado Springs Airport.

Both planes landed without problems on Monday night.

Federal officials issued a warning this month that terrorists might try to down aircraft by shining powerful lasers into cockpits to blind pilots during landing approaches.

From here:

Authorities are investigating a mysterious laser beam that was directed into the cockpit of a commercial jet traveling at more than 8,500 feet.

The beam appeared Monday when the plane was about 15 miles from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, the FBI said.

“It was in there for several seconds like (the plane) was being tracked,” FBI agent Robert Hawk said.

The pilot was able to land the plane, and air traffic controllers used radar to determine the laser came from a residential area in suburban Warrensville Heights.

Hawk said the laser had to have been fairly sophisticated to track a plane traveling at that altitude. Authorities had no other leads, and are investigating whether the incident was a prank or if there was a more sinister motive.


A memo sent to law enforcement agencies recently by the FBI and the Homeland Security Department says there is evidence that terrorists have explored using lasers as weapons. Authorities said there is no specific intelligence indicating al-Qaida or other groups might use lasers in the United States.

In September a pilot for Delta Air Lines reported an eye injury from a laser beam shone into the cockpit during a landing approach in Salt Lake City. The incident occurred about 5 miles from the airport. The plane landed safely.

This is quite troubling. It now appears that even if we prevent these scum from ever getting on an airplane, they can still potentially cause disasters that leave hundreds dead.

How can we possibly defend ourselves against this threat? Special anti-laser goggles for pilots? Is such a device even possible?

There is no better defense against terrorism than a good offense. Dead terrorists cannot terrorize…

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About RJ

  • Kevin

    oh yes. I forgot to post the link: Defense equipment used by the US Navy for detecting lasers being aimed at aircraft:



  • Kevin

    I had actually thought that this might happen when the red lasers came out a number of years back, but apparently they are not powerful enough to be more than annoying. It is the new Green ones that have come out that can be dangerous. They do make goggles that will filter out green lasers. I can see it turning into a film applied to the inside of the cockpit glass.

    all pilots are qualified for instrument landings, though I see your point, they have to have eyes left to *see* the instruments with..

    I would pretty much guarantee that it is kids doing it with the odd adult thinking that it is a really funny prank. I bet they would actually find it to be a pretty challenging trick to try and track an airplane.

    something to remember, a green laser light can be seen from the side, which means if you have a good enough low light video camera offset from the target, (like mounted on nearby airplanes circling the airport preparing for landing) you could even locate it to the house where it came from.

    there are options, however, it will cost the airlines $$, which will cause them to raise fares, etc. I think this part is inevitable.


  • JR

    How can we possibly defend ourselves against this threat? Special anti-laser goggles for pilots? Is such a device even possible?

    Yes. So is automated landing. And video display of terrain using any number of different sensors and scanning wavelengths.

    You know, the culprits here are just as likely to be adolescent “pranksters”. Colorado is also notorious for cat killers and school shootings; there are threats aplenty among the local high school population. Dare I ask what your best defense against them is?