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. cambsukguy

      Re: Small missile...

      What about making every laser pointer oscillate with an invisible, unique pattern so that it can be recorded and traced back to the source.

      Strong market in untraceable pointers and hacking the code but both better than the current untraceable system.

      Added bonus: You could use your laser pointer as a key to open optical locks, buy the lock, do set pass code, shine your laser, repeat as required.

      Handy at the office, car and home. Just off to check the patent office...

      1. Suricou Raven

        Re: Small missile...

        Ever opened up a laser pointer? It consists of exactly four components: Diode, resistor, button, battery. A modulation chip would increase the cost greatly. People wouldn't go looking for an untrackable laser: They'd just buy the dodgy one because it's on eBay for £5 and the legit ones are £7.

  1. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Could be worse

    the could project power point presentations and London would be buried in sleeping pilots.

  2. Timbo


    I have to he honest here and think that, to a degree, we have brought this upon ourselves.

    We've used technology to create certain types of devices and this has brought work for people and profits to be made. Which is fine.

    But somehow, we've let the genie out of the bottle with the expectation that people will use these devices with good intent, and yet, here we find ourselves a day after Paris, with conversations about how said devices are being used to harm others.

    Maybe, just maybe there needs to be restrictions put on the production (and/or sale) of such items which might then lead to a reduction in deaths (or injuries) to other humans? And maybe we should all be accountable for these problems, by not creating a "demand" for them in the first place?


    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      I have never seen wreaths lying in front of the Afghan embassy in the last 14 years.


      Don't give me this kind of whiny shit.

      We have brought this on ourselves, and it's only gonna get worse. Painted ourselves into the corner of mendacity. And now it's getting dark.


  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Which colour laser?

    Is green the best to try or red?

  4. Chozo

    I wonder how difficult it would be for the driver IC's of these laser pointers to modulate the beam with a unique serial number that's hard-coded into the silicon at manufacture.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't bother

    Stop thinking of clever hacks and regulations and countermeasures, trying to make the laser safe or cooperative in any way. Any idiot can get ~150mW of blindness out of the diode in a DVD burner, after some trash digging. Consider that some sober people are stupid enough to decide to get totally smashed at which point they're drunk enough to decide to drive home. If that hasn't stopped, whatever gets people to stop aiming lasers at air traffic will likely seem like overkill.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Don't bother

      But could a drunken idiot perform the required electronic surgery?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't bother

        You don't have to be terribly smart to use one of the thousand LM317-based constant current supply schematics up on the internet, some of which are just colored lines MSPainted over a photo of the 3 components involved (not counting a button and a battery). And you don't have to be sober to push the button. The hardest part may be getting the lens aligned, unless you just buy the diode holder/heatsink with spring-loaded screw cover for the lens in front, like more of the YT videos will tell you to do. And sometimes the DVD burner sled takes care of that for you-- it's only a matter of guessing where to nibble with diagonal cutters in order to leave the useful lens in place but open up a straight path for the beam.

        IMO the only thing you can do is go back to the original problem-- how do you get people to stop being stupid and doing stupid things? But even that is a layer above the ultimate problem: how do you get people to stop believing things that aren't true, such as:

        * this is going to be cool as hell

        * there's nothing wrong with X

        * whatever, nobody's going to catch me

        * this politician/party/organization has my interests in mind

        * my interests/concerns/needs are the most valid and should be pressed into the model for society with the exclusion of others

        * my assumptions are/were valid

        * everyone makes the same assumptions as me

        * well, everyone should make the same assumptions as me

        * while everyone tries to reckon unobservable reality from observable reality, the correctness of my interpretation should be obvious to all

  6. Richard 126

    Has anyone ever died from this?

    I have been reading about lasers and aircraft quite a bit on her pprune and several other sites but nowhere can I find information on anyone actually dying, aircraft brought down etc from laser attack. It seems to be extremely annoying rather than deadly.

    1. robmobz

      Re: Has anyone ever died from this?

      No. They are all terrified of it but no actual injuries or deaths. the worst that has happened is flash blindness like if you accidentally shine a torch at yourself in the dark.

    2. Filippo

      Re: Has anyone ever died from this?

      It is indeed extremely annoying. That's the point. You really don't want anything extremely annoying to happen to you while you're landing an airplane.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. eptc

    It's not just the number, it's the power?

    With lasers available far exceeding a few mW, I hope the airlines have their heads out of the sand and are spending money to provide 'blast shield' protection against lasers?

  9. Dick Emery

    Eye lights

    I suspect more people are hurt by these having them shone in their eyes than pointed at aircraft.

  10. Lou 2

    Can I suggest they get a few drones to fly into those airports - one or two well placed missiles should sort that nonsense right out. Or maybe a fifty cal loaded with tracers - would look quite pretty?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Temporarily stationing an AC-130 at a laser hotspot to ruin their fun could be entertaining.

  12. Blinkered

    Eye Burn

    I have a 15mW Astro Pointer (pulsed green) - and I can tell you it can paint a beam on a mountain over a couple of km away. Only used in rural areas showing kids constellations and as such it's a great educational tool instead of wiggling your arm vaguely at the sky and saying see that star up there - it's the next one over. Never use in an urban environment but a lot of kids fun to be had attaching one of the many crazy beam scatter heads available that split the beam into a hundred or so patterns for disco lights while camping.

    As an educational tool it's great - and at the same time you educate the kids to use it responsibly - in the same way we were taught to use potentially dangerous things like axes at Scouts. Personally I'd rather be dodging a kid with a laser pen than a kid with an axe but nutters will be nutters.

    Don't blame the technology blame the education (in general) of irresponsible morons

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Eye Burn

      The same argument is used against guns. "Lets ban guns" Let's ban Lasers" Let's ban everything"

      No, we should be more reasoned and ban stupidity. If you are too stupid to use tools properly then you have proved you should be banned from participating in Humanity.

      It's not the tool, it is the user that is the problem.

      1. Swarthy Silver badge

        Re: Eye Burn

        It's not the tool, it's the tool that's misusing the tool?

  13. Van

    but it's perfectly fine for so-called car and motorcycle enthusiasts to bombard our lives with their modified and excessive noisy exhausts. (the latest fashion, pop and bang noises on the overrun)

    Note that the Health department has already warned on the sale of laser pointers over a certain power, presumably making the seller liable incase of injury, yet the noise making industry is sponsored by certain MPs who constituents include the makers of loud pipes. Illegal and an MOT failure, yet fine to sell in the UK according to the health dept and trading standards.

    btw, havnt seen a laser pointer in public use for approx 10 years, yet get woken up 3-4 times per night by Harley riders and ricers.


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