Friday, August 22, 2014

No Stupid Boy String: Laser Pointer endanger pilots – Business Week

For years make attacks with laser pointers to provide pilots. The men and women in the cockpit can hardly protect themselves.

Outdoors prevails dark night, the pupils of the pilots are dilated – but suddenly the cockpit of Eurocopter in garish green light is lit. “This is a bit like when you look at night in a photo flash,” says Joachim Walzik, head of the helicopter squadron of the Bavarian riot police. About ten times its in Munich and Nuremberg stationed pilots have been victims of attacks with laser pointers in recent years.

dangerous security problem for aviation

The beam of light meet on the plexiglass of the helicopter and will strongly diffused reported Walzik. “We had a crew that all three were followed by an eye doctor because that has so heavily flashed, that they had really pain.” Especially in difficult maneuvers close to the ground or if wind turbines and power lines in the vicinity, which could be dangerous. ‘ / p>

year after year are reported in Germany several hundred Blend attacks – the statistics are incomplete. A major security issue for aviation. “It’s as if someone on the highway the driver hold for four, five, six seconds, the eyes,” says Markus choice of the pilots’ union Cockpit. “Unfortunately, this is still not embedded in the community that this is not a stupid boy prank.”

The problem appeared a few years ago and took cheaper with the spread, powerful laser pointer to. Again and again motorists and train drivers to be dazzled. Recently it was in the statistics of German air traffic control (DFS) and Federal Aviation Authority but first a slight decrease in the number of cases. In the DFS air traffic controllers in the past year were 534 messages a, almost 200 less than 2012 in the first six months of this year there were even only 161 – the number is usually higher in the second half. “I hope that this trend continues,” says spokeswoman Kristina Kelek.

Laser pointer does not fall under the weapons law

But pilot representatives urge further action. “There is, thank God nothing happened yet. But that we do not want to wait, “Markus emphasizes choice. The demands of the union: the stricter prosecution of offenders and the inclusion of more powerful laser pointers into the Arms Act. The latter had also checked the Federal Ministry of the Interior on behalf of the countries, but from now beckons: A control on the weapons law is legally problematic, says a spokeswoman. “In addition, a weapons legal prohibition on implementation of laser pointers in practice would be very difficult to control and therefore unenforceable.” Perpetrator could already be prosecuted for engaging in the rail, water and air transport – it has up to ten years imprisonment


Aircraft pilots are concerned mainly with take-offs and landings, because they are relatively low then go. So in early August were blinded two pilots of passenger aircraft in descent to Cologne / Bonn Airport. “This is the hardest phase of the flight at all,” warns Professor Hans-Dieter Reidenbach.

The Institute for Applied Optics and Electronics of the University of Applied Sciences Cologne, he deals with the laser attacks. Depending on the wavelength, power and distance of the laser pointer glare could differ last long – sometimes only seconds, in the lead up to a minute or two, Reid says Bach. Although only laser pointers are likely to be sold with a maximum power of one milliwatt in Germany. But it was over the internet easy to buy more equipment.

According to experts, long-term eye damage in the pilot are possible. Cockpit spokesman Markus Wahl reported by a U.S. pilot who had been incapacitated by a laser attack.

The Bavarian police helicopter now have goggles on board. But first, help them not against all wavelengths, ie only against laser in certain colors. “They are also not worn permanently, because it affects us,” says squadron leader Joachim Walzik. If the police helicopters are blinded, was the chance to catch the perpetrators, but not so bad: The crew could turn away and look to the onboard camera, from where came the attack. “In our estimation, is not primarily made intentionally, but out just for the heck -. Stupidity”


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