Application of Lasers in the Aviation Environment
This document applies to all parties interested or involved with the use of laser systems outdoors [e.g., FAA, Department of Defense (DoD), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Department of Energy (DOE), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), aviation community, astronomers, academia, entertainment industry]. It may be used in conjunction with other laser safety documents as outlined in the list of references
Rationale: Laser systems in the aviation environment are becoming more abundant and more hazardous. They are being used in new and varied applications. This document provides information on current and proposed laser applications that may affect the aviation environment by collating information into one source for use by laser proponents; Federal, state, and local regulators; and other aviation entities. Additionally, this document may be used as a reference on current systems and to identify possibilities for developing or enhancing laser systems, technologies, or applications.
Exposure to a laser beam is not necessarily hazardous. Laser exposure may cause injury when persons are exposed above the maximum permissible exposure level. Visual effects can also interfere with critical tasks when persons are exposed above the established visual interference levels. For example, laser exposure exceeding 5 W/cm2 of an aircraft flying above 10,000 feet AGL would not necessarily be considered hazardous; however laser exposure above 50 nW/cm2 of a helicopter located at less than 2,000 feet AGL would be considered hazardous even if the helicopter is not in an established laser free flight zone.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has requested that the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) create guidance regarding laser use in the aviation environment. The information in this document may be used by approving authorities, system developers, and proponents for laser use. Additionally, the information presented in this document may be incorporated into future FAA documents such as Advisory Circulars (ACs).