How $900 Glasses May Protect Pilots From Laser Strikes

Laser strikes against pilots are serious business.

Lasers striking airplanes seems like a joke, but it’s a real thing—and although a laser-struck flight has never injured anyone, they are being taken increasingly seriously by federal authorities. Last year, a federal court sentenced one man to 14 years in prison as a result.

Laser strikes are typically carried out by people standing at the end of a runway, firing a miniature laser into the cockpit of a aircraft while it is landing or taking off. Things have gotten so serious that an official FBI post on the matter has described laser attacks as reaching “epidemic level.”

Technology may be coming to the aid of pilots, though. Aerospace firm Sierra Tango LLC is reportedly working on a pair of $900 glasses designed to filter out certain lasers—including green lasers and high-power blue lasers, both of which can cause dizziness and temporary blindness on the part of anyone they are directed at.

“We’ve got one major U.S. airline that is running trials, we’ve had some helicopters in police departments that are trying it,” company president Tony Reed told Ars Technica, although he refused to elaborate on which company or agency was involved with the testing.

It is hoped that pilots’ unions will help subsidize the cost of the glasses.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that three new instances of laser strikes against Delta aircraft took place last Sunday alone, on their approach to Los Angeles International Airport. In 2014, there were 101 reported laser strikes against pilots in L.A.

[via Ars Technica]

[Lasers: Flickr user Douglas Muth, Glasses: Flickr user .dh]