Unauthorized Laser Illuminations: Pilot Operational Procedures
This document addresses the operational safety and human factors aspects of unauthorized laser illumination events in navigable airspace. The topics addressed include operational procedures, training, and protocols that flight crew members should follow in the event of a laser exposure. Of particular emphasis, this document outlines coping strategies for use during critical phases of flight. Although lasers are capable of causing retinal damage, most laser cockpit illuminations, to date, has been relatively low in irradiance causing primarily startle reactions, visual glare, flashblindness and afterimages. Permanent eye injuries from unauthorized laser exposures have been extremely rare. This document describes pilot operational procedures in response to the visual disruptions associated with low to moderate laser exposures that pilots are most likely to encounter during flight operations. With education and training, pilots can take actions that safeguard both their vision and the safety of their passengers.
SAE G-10 has published a number of documents to address issues associated with the use of lasers in the navigable air spaces. Because lasers have proven to be a significant visual performance hazard to pilots, many operational and human factors issues must be addressed to develop solutions for the aerospace industry. This document offers a brief overview of the flight hazards associated with laser exposures, identifies areas requiring research necessary to more fully understand the effect of laser exposure on pilot performance, and introduces recommended practices to pilots who encounter lasers during flight operations.