back to article Aircraft laser strikes hit new record with 20 incidents in one night

The Federal Aviation Administration has warned of a dangerous escalation in laser strikes on aircraft, with Wednesday night alone registering a record 20 incidents. "Nearly two dozen aircraft were hit by lasers last night," the FAA reported. "Shining a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime. It can harm the pilot and …

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: "...defence against laser..."

        "First marketing approach was sheets of film installed in the aircraft windows just like window tinting is installed in cars."

        The local oiks lase cars, cyclists and residential windows in addition to aircraft (their usual method of getting away is to duck into a pub when the helicopter shows up)

        When they hit my lounge window about 30 degrees off axis the entire pane (1.2m square) went bright green and illuminated the room whilst preventing anything being seen outside. Apparently this is down to microcracking in the glass. Having experienced it I can see why it'd be hellishly distracting to a pilot even if he doesn't cop it directly in the eyeball. (I've caught that too, It hurt like hell and at least one other driver crashed into parked cars when he got struck).

        I've been sorely tempted to liberate a cutting laser and use it to return the favour.

    1. Suricou Raven

      Remove the windows.

      Why not? It'd allow for slightly reduced construction costs and simplified aerodynamics, and pilots don't actually need to see out of them - planes can already be flown almost entirely on instruments, and could be all the time with just a couple more cameras. It'd actually improve visibility.

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Or you could rermove the pilots.

        Take-off, cruise and landing are mostly automated anyway - or can be if need be.

        It's either that or making it illegal to own any pointer with a power of more than <not many> W.

        Does anyone really need a pointer that puts out more than 10mW? No, they don't.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Fair number? What a polite way of saying "most of them."

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Eric Olson
    Devil

    I have an idea...

    ...and the FBI has offered a $10,000 bounty to anyone who lets them know when a dangerous idiot is on the loose with lasers.

    A small part of me wants to find some idiots, plant a seed, water it with beer, then turn them into the cops. I mean, it's a public service to get idiots jailed, right? The fact that I could get paid to do it would merely be an incidental benefit.

    1. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: I have an idea...

      If you were really evil you'd open a Dangerous Idiot MegaPointer Supastore on eBay, and then collect $10k for each customer.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meh

    This happens everywhere. I'm a cop in Glasgow and there's a set of five high rise flats that are directly under the flightpath to Glasgow airport.I think we've had three people charged in three separate locations so far.

    No excuses, just unemployed neds bored of an evening.

    1. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: Meh

      There was a Winchburgh man sent down for firing fireworks at aeroplanes landing at Edinburgh Airport. He wasn't a ned, he was a middle-aged home-owner pissed off by the flight path. Admittedly he was mad, but he was driven mad by the noise. Flight paths do tend to fly over poor populated areas rather than more sparsely populated rich areas, and the poor folk do get annoyed by that.

      I am in no way defending the laser-pointers - I don't fly anymore but if I saw anyone doing that then I'd brick them. After all, if they did bring down a plane then it might land on me. Am I allowed to say I'd brick someone to a cop? Och, tonight you should be worrying about Daesh and right-wing retaliation, not silly buggers like me.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: Meh

        Most airports have been around a rather long time and they fly over areas populated by the poor because the noise lowers property values making it affordable to the poor and rich folks can afford to live elsewhere. Of course there are probably more flights now than there were but part of that is because airlines are consolidating their routes and many of the smaller airports, like the one I learned at, are actually being closed.

        1. Roq D. Kasba

          Re: Meh

          'It's WW2, we need a new airport - quick, let's find a prime bit of real estate densely populated with poor people'

          Or possibly post-war, cities expanded to fill the gaps upto the airports, and businesses came along for the great transport links, then people came to work at those businesses, the less well paid off whom were prepared to live closer to work in exchange for engine noise and lower rents.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Meh

            'It's WW2, we need a new airport - quick, let's find a prime bit of real estate densely populated with poor people'

            More than one posh fox-hunting ground was destroyed by this defense perimeter action...

          2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

            Re: Meh

            Hardly, one of the only landing strips capable of landing the space shuttle (outside of the US) was out in the sticks of York.

            It's also visible from space and was used for Lancasters and b-17s. (and is also where my grand-uncle flew out from never to return, not surprising with 50% survival rate of his job)

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

          Re: Meh

          The problem is the zoning laws allowing residential zones near airports not industrial zones. Also, how many of the complainers are the poor but upper middle class/rich who chose to live by the airport.

        3. PaulFrederick

          Re: Meh

          Some rich folks can afford to have flight paths altered too. Moving is for the poor rich folks. The really rich ones tell planes where to fly.

  4. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Stop

    If one of these idjits actually brings down a plane....

    Punishment should START with him/her/them being made to dig the graves of everyone they got killed.

  5. DCLXV

    Middle class terrorism

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Care to expand on that, #665?

  6. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Retro reflectors

    If most of these clowns thought it was somebody aiming something back at them, they might stop.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Retro reflectors

      Or just use the reflection as an aiming cue, to help find and stay on target.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Retro reflectors

        "Or just use the reflection as an aiming cue, to help find and stay on target."

        alternatively it's the plane that uses the reflection as an aiming cue .......

  7. WonkoTheSane

    Just wait.

    Some idiot will try this on a fighter plane armed with laser guided bombs.

    File under Darwin Award.

    (Yes, I know that's not how laser guided bombs really work, but it sounded nice inside my head)

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Can't say I don't like idea, but fighter pilots generally do have a bit of a problem with releasing military ordnance on a civilian population in their own country.

      1. Def Silver badge
        Joke

        but fighter pilots generally do have a bit of a problem with releasing military ordnance on a civilian population in their own country.

        So you just need a small international agreement in place. British pilots can police the French skies, and vice versa. :D

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        fighter pilots generally do have a bit of a problem with releasing military ordnance on a civilian population in their own country.

        I saw what you did there...

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Trollface

          Can't say I don't like idea, but fighter pilots generally do have a bit of a problem with releasing military ordnance on a civilian population in their own country.

          That's because they are sitting in the wrong plane. They should be sitting in a ground-attack aircraft.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            "They should be sitting in a ground-attack aircraft."

            The RAF and RN will have a suitable plane in a while. It's called the F35

      3. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Coat

        releasing military ordnance

        Then you load the fightersground attack aircraft with civil ordnance (smart bombs that say "sorry" and dig your grave before exploding on you)

  8. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    "Putting the laser where the sun doesn't shine" is the phrase that somehow springs to mind. Can't think why. Of course, it is the perpetrator's minds in need of illumination, not their lower intestines

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Of course, it is the perpetrator's minds in need of illumination

      ITYM "enlightenment".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        maybe you get them all a new Fiat Lux

        sorry

  9. Haku

    I have red, green and violet (sold as blue) laser pointers.

    They're fun toys but I'm extremely aware of how dangerous they can be, unlike some of my friends and their friends who have several times asked me to get them a green one next time I'm buying gadgets online because it's the brightest.

    I do say yeah I'll get them one, but I never do and never will because generally they're morons when it comes to technology and things like this. I mean, if they can't figure out how to buy something from the internet that's as readily available as a laser pointer how can they comprehend just how dangerous they can be?

    20 incedents in one night is nothing compared to what happened in Egypt a couple of years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjaW3QM2Nb8

    One really odd thing I discovered about laser light, which I haven't found an answer to is this: My violet laser will easily charge up glow-in-the-dark materials, it's very cool how quickly it does that, but if I shine my red or more noticably my green laser pointer at an already charged up glow-in-the-dark material it will go dark where I shine the laser, it actively reduces the glow.

    There has to be a scientific explanation for what happens when you do that, but to me that's just weird with a capital weird.

    1. tfb Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: I have red, green and violet (sold as blue) laser pointers.

      For the glow-in-the-dark question, the violet laser will have higher-energy photons and so will be kicking whatever it is needs to be kicked into an excited energy level. The other lasers will then either give whatever it is enough of a kick that it falls back rapidly or, perhaps, kick it into some yet other excited energy level where it is much more nearly stable, so appears dark.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: I have red, green and violet (sold as blue) laser pointers.

        Clearly the energy quantum is involved. Better ask at StackExchange

      2. Suricou Raven

        Re: I have red, green and violet (sold as blue) laser pointers.

        If you could sandwich the material between two mirrors, you could make another laser.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I have red, green and violet (sold as blue) laser pointers.

      I haven't seen a laser pointer used in public for years and I travel a lot of miles.

      I understand the UK health department has them listed whereby over a certain power they are not allowed to or recommended not to be sold.

      Contrary to this, I'm woken up and disturbed regularly by cars and motorcycles with extremely loud modified exhausts. A practice that has become more and more fashionable and now reaching out to middle age men driving exotic cars, paying up to £5,000 for a system designed to audibly show off the power of their vehicle contrary to type approval standards and MOT rules.

      So I've bee wondering. Next time I'm sleep deprived by one of these selfish motoring enthusiasts forcing their noise into my apartment and head, how would they and the Police react if I forced laser light into their vehicles and eyes?

      I'm guessing the car and motorcycle modification industry being worth £millions more than the laser pen industry, would see me prosecuted and the car driver ticked off with a little warning, with the MOT testers continuing to making a good living out of the fraud.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I have red, green and violet (sold as blue) laser pointers.

        I'm woken up and disturbed regularly by cars and motorcycles with extremely loud modified exhausts

        Most of those exhaust modders are idiots. All you have to suggest is that they will be better able to enjoy the sound if they duct it into the interior, and Darwin will take care of the rest.

        :)

        1. DanceMan

          Re: Most of those exhaust modders are idiots

          Yes. How do you make more power? Rev higher. Only at a track day would a modified exhaust have any real use. On my current (25 year old) car I had the noisier muffler replaced with a quiet one as soon as the exhaust needed work. I can't use anything near the max power my car can make on public roads, and scores of current cars have much more power than mine.

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: I have red, green and violet (sold as blue) laser pointers.

        @ac

        Contrary to this, I'm woken up and disturbed regularly by cars and motorcycles with extremely loud modified exhausts. A practice that has become more and more fashionable and now reaching out to middle age men driving exotic cars

        The loudest car near me left the factory that way - TVR Cerbera. Its so loud that I can't even hear my car when I'm sat in it if the owner pulls up next to me, and my car is fairly loud. Some cars are just loud, and no matter how they're used will be audible in a road side building.

        Now, I completely agree when we're talking about badly modified shopping trolleys, fart canning their way between McDonalds, while looking like the spare carriage off the Ninkey-Nonk. Or idiots that hold the gear up to the red line in residential areas.

        Those, to me, are two very different issues, but I say that as a middle aged man, with a faintly loud car. I'm not really sure what you want me to do about it though.... The car can't be made quiet.

    3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: I have red, green and violet (sold as blue) laser pointers.

      The glow in the dark is either phosphorescence or fluorescence. Both require the illumination of a suitable material with light of the correct frequency to occur. For many common materials this is in violet region.

  10. IvoryT

    There's one way to stop this

    I am against the death penalty for all the obvious reasons, but if your country actually has it then laser strikes on planes would be a good candidate because it actually would act as a deterrent.

    You would only have to publicly execute 3 or 4 people and and this horribly dangerous behaviour would stop.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's one way to stop this

      You would only have to publicly execute 3 or 4 people and and this horribly dangerous behaviour would stop.

      it hasnt exactly worked for the other crimes which carry the death sentence, though has it?

      Using a sweeping generalisation, most people who are dicking around like this are likely to struggle with difficult concepts like "repercussions".................

      1. Yugguy

        Re: There's one way to stop this

        There is one thing that the death penalty absolutely prevents, and that's the chance of the daft fuckwits doing it again.

        1. Anonymous C0ward

          Re: There's one way to stop this

          Assuming you've got the right person.

          There are lots of cases that deserve the death penalty. There are rather less times when the evidence is clear enough, or the judge and jury can be impartial enough, to hand down such a penalty that can't be undone. And he who is without sin, etc.

        2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: There's one way to stop this

          You're thinking of summery executions. Death penalty almost always involves a lot of trials and appeals, almost always costing more than keeping someone in prison for life.

          So either you have a system where people are getting killed for things they didn't do, or finding very expensive ways for the state to kill it's own citizens.

          But it's a pretty typical narrow minded little englander attitude, written by someone not near enough to the bottom or top of society to actually appreciate how the law does (or doesn't) work, and especially on how it's enforced.

          I'm sure you'll be voting for whoever is offering to reduce our freedoms in the name of fighting $Enemy, who hate us because of our freedoms, and nothing to do with killing and theft.

    2. cambsukguy

      Re: There's one way to stop this

      If 250k and/or 20 years doesn't stop it, threat of death won't either.

      After all the homicide rate is lower in our non-death penalty Europe than most, if-not-all death penalty countries, and yes, I am aware that that is not necessarily why.

      But I seriously doubt if the death penalty would reduce the murder rate, I have known a few murderers and they all were not cognisant of the penalty because most were not in a stable frame of mind at the time and a small number knew the risks but were motivated by stronger urges, usually money and they don't expect to be caught, otherwise, what would be the point?

      Lasing an aircraft is easy to do and easy to get away with. We have high penalties for 'easy' crimes that are hard to stop but none-the-less very unwanted for a reason, we have nothing else. But, you have to publicise it heavily or it just means that stupid saps get massive penalties (with some publicity of course).

      The obvious one I know is the insane penalties available for pointing a camera at a screen in a cinema (10 years in prison and huge fines in the UK). Obviously reserved for the worst of the worst but still.

      And speeding?, easy to do, rarely causes the possible outcome (Hello sir, in a hurry?, better to get there alive don't you think?), small fine and points, only persistent offenders and very, very fast drivers get anything like an actual punishment - them and the ones that actually cause an accident.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: There's one way to stop this

        @cambsukguy

        And speeding?, easy to do, rarely causes the possible outcome (Hello sir, in a hurry?, better to get there alive don't you think?), small fine and points, only persistent offenders and very, very fast drivers get anything like an actual punishment

        Speeding fines are just another tax on motoring, and a means by which to make it unpleasant such that the already unpleasant public transport looks less like a descent into hell and more like a possible option.

        I speed. There, I said it. I speed where I feel it is safe to do so, and I drive under the posted limit where I feel that it is an unsafe speed to achieve. A tin disc at the side of the road, with a number put there by a civil servant who's probably never seen the road has literally no bearing on the road surface, the weather, the traffic level, number of cyclists & pedestrians etc etc. There's more to safe driving than a speed limit.

        Almost 25 years with no points or awareness courses, so I must be doing something right. In that time I think I had two at fault accidents, both in my youth, which were caused by driving too close rather than too fast. After which, I learned to drive properly rather than driving like the teenage boy I was.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's one way to stop this

      I would be possibly more interesting if it was possible to mandate blindness for a few weeks by whatever reversible means. If they survive that they will come out of it with a new appreciation of what it means to be able to see, if they don't, well, that too solves the issue.

      Heavy offenders would have to wear the offending item up their rear end for the duration. If they bought a big laser with sharp protrusions, tough.

  11. romanempire

    Small missile...

    ... launcher mounted above the flight deck loaded with laser homing guided missile. Perhaps with a ground proximity fuse (say 50m) that triggers a parachute and ignites a flare to light up the perps so the police can spot them. Or the payload could be a blob of that anti-theft marker dye that paints the perp.

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