At a recent trade event, NoIR Laser Company LLC presented GlareShieldâ„¢ Laser Safety glasses, which have been shown to be effective against malicious laser illuminations by pilots with the Los Angeles Police Department.
In as many as 3 incidents in early July, 2011, LAPD Air Support Division helicopter crews were intentionally and maliciously illuminated or â€˜hitâ€™ by intense green lasers from the ground. In prior incidents of laser attacks, pilots were forced to divert from the immediate air space. But while flight testing the GlareShieldâ„¢ safety glasses, air crew members reported the effects of the laser hits as significantly diminished, and were able to remain on the scene to continue enforcement actions. The officers in the air successfully identified and directed ground officers to the location of the laser sources, and in several cases, arrests were made and lasers confiscated.
The 30-200mW green lasers used against the LAPD pilots did not present risk of eye-injury at the illumination distances of greater than 200 meters, but the perception of possible injury, along with the dazzle and flash blinding effect usually causes pilots to disengage. Yet, as one LAPD crew member reported, the GlareShieldâ„¢ glasses â€œperformed beyond my expectations. The glasses allowed me to take a direct hit from the laser with no effects.â€
FAA Report: Increased Threat Posed by Hand-held Lasers
Inappropriate use of lasers has become more prevalent and dangerous as handheld lasers have become less expensive, more powerful and increasingly available to the public, according to a report issued in December 2010 by the Federal Aviation Administration. Itâ€™s no coincidence that the number of laser events involving aircraft is also increasing. The FAA reports that overall, the number of incidents nationally in which people pointed lasers at planes and helicopters nearly doubled last year, from 1,527 incidents in 2009 to 2,836 incidents in 2010.
While no accidents have been attributed to laser illuminations, there is the potential. “Sudden exposure to laser radiation during a critical phase of flight, such as on approach to landing or departure, can distract or disorient a pilot and cause temporary visual impairment,” the report stated. Helicopters, especially those used by law enforcement, are at a greater risk, since they often hover at low altitudes and can be more easily targeted.
The hazard is significant: A 5-milliwatt green laser — the maximum output for any device labeled and sold as an office laser pointer — is a distraction to pilots over a mile away, while a 125-milliwatt laser can cause a cockpit distraction at a distance of greater than 5 miles. The danger posed by a bright laser illumination is increased at night, as the targetâ€™s eyes are low-light adapted and the effect is more pronounced. These high-powered nighttime illuminations can induce temporary and dazzling flash blindness, yet standard sunglasses, visors and typical safety goggles provide no protection from these hazards. Even normal laser safety goggles do no provide correct protection from the laser pointer illumination hazard.
NoIR GlareShieldsâ„¢ provide protection from the disabling effects of laser strikes without compromising the wearerâ€™s ability to perform on the job, especially in low light conditions. GlareShieldsâ„¢ optimize protection from the lasers (absorbing 90-99.5% of the beam energy), while still allowing visibility of the beam spot (for pilots to identify the source location), and without compromising visual acuity or display panel color recognition, ensuring that pilots and law enforcement personnel are protected and still at peak performance.
Established in 1996 by NoIR Medical Technologies (1972), NoIR Laser Company, L.L.C manufactures internationally-certified laser safety eyewear for medical, military, aviation, aerospace, scientific and industrial applications. As a specialist in filters with custom frequency absorption, NoIR also produces eyewear for alignment, forensics, UV/Blue light curing, photodynamic therapy, enhancement and telecommunications.
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