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Laser Warnings Planned for Out-of-Bounds Pilots

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the this-certainly-won't-be-spoofed dept.

United States 258

akadruid writes "No, it's not a new 'Star Wars' system: The US Pentagon and NORAD are using lasers to warn off pilots flying into restricted airspace, according to Wired magazine. I wonder if they got the idea from the FBI, who charged a New Jersey man under anti-terror laws for doing this?" The system is not yet in operation (but could be as soon as next month), and according to NORAD, their system has been found safe for pilots' eyes.

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Please, for the love of God... (5, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219045)

...RTFA.

Yes, it's ironic and ha-ha funny and all considering the instances of lasers being shined into cockpits as pranks.

But:

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said its laser warning system will start in 30 to 45 days. The low-intensity lights are less powerful than the ones that prompted warnings, and tests have shown they are safe for the eyes, according to NORAD.

NORAD spokesman Michael Kucharek said the laser-based warning system someday could replace fighter jets as a way to warn pilots to stay away from the Capitol and the White House.

Hundreds of small private planes
[i.e., not commercial jetliners] have strayed into the restricted airspace in Washington, a 15.75-mile radius around the Washington Monument.

In some cases, NORAD has had to divert or scramble fighter jets to escort them away from the area at a cost of $30,000 to $50,000 each time, Kucharek said.

The challenge for NORAD will be to educate pilots that the red-red-green flashing laser beams mean they're flying in restricted airspace.


Isn't looking for a new or novel notification system for myriad planes that may not be able to immediately contacted via radio or identified by radar or other means a good thing? And one that mitigates the need to divert or scramble fighters at great costs?

And yes, I suppose someone could build a system to emulate the NORAD system as a joke/hoax/prank/whatever, as no doubt dozens of drooling slashdotters are anxious to post to echo Timothy, but then, it would be:

- First of all, very unlikely to be encountered, statistically, and when it did happen, it would be:

- Not anywhere near restricted airspace, meaning it would be recognized as a prank to be ignored
- In the case of much of DC around the capitol, in restricted airspace anyway, and therefore moot
- Likely that instances that would cause significant confusion and/or be mistaken for a legitimate NORAD warning would be about as prevalent as current laser pranks. That is to say, not prevalent at all, compared with the total number of flights.

So in sum, this is a very good idea and not at all surprising.

Further the fact that a man has been (rightfully) charged with a crime for shining a fucking laser at a plane like a dumbass has absolutely nothing to do with a safe, non-obtrusive, well-designed warning system that coincidentally also uses lasers because of their utility that is only invoked if a pilot strays into restricted airspace in the first place, which are likely to be small, private planes, as indicated in the article, and NOT commercial carriers with experienced pilots who know, and have the tools, to stay out of restricted airspace.

Re:Please, for the love of God... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219067)

DAVE! Watch out, this story could be deleted like last time with the poor mexicans and MIT and then you can complain about it again as an aC! Im not making any sense, but next time you bitch do it like a man and don't post it AC

Re:Please, for the love of God... (0, Offtopic)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219089)

1. I don't post as AC.

2. I posted my "Dupe" response [slashdot.org] (which got deleted along with the article) while logged in, which you can clearly see from my user page [slashdot.org] (look for "Dupe..." attached to "Can Build Robots But Can't Afford College [dupe]").

But thanks for your concern.

Re:Please, for the love of God... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219098)

What did I tell you about not taking your meds in the morning and the posting to Slashdot?

Re:Please, for the love of God... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219221)

Well, if you're just flying around, say, the Nevada Desert, and you happen to start seeing this in your cockpit, but haven't flown recently and have missed all the information about it (yeah, right), does that mean you deserve to be shot down if you're flying over Groom Lake and you don't turn around?

It invites people to "warfly" now. Fly around remote areas, pretend to be oblivious, and see if you get "flashed", and then post your GPS coords on the internet. Then, do it again from a different direction. Pin down the area where you've been "flashed". What someone wants people to not fly over will get boxed in soon enough, and will warrant closer on-ground inspection.

Of course, Mayor Dailey will probably get one put on top of the Sears Tower, whether the FAA likes it or not.

Re:Please, for the love of God... (-1, Offtopic)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219241)

It invites people to "warfly" now.

...

Oh. My. Fucking. God.

This is quite frankly the most worthless piece of shit pos...

Oh, wait. I'm reading slashdot.

Never mind.

Re:Please, for the love of God... (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219303)

This doesn't mean they won't radio you to say "Get the hell out of our protected airspace or you will be shot down"

Re:Please, for the love of God... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219360)

Except this makes no sense, since restricted airspace is information that is readily available.

Re:Please, for the love of God... (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219391)

Hope you liked having that pilot's license.

Re:Please, for the love of God... (2, Insightful)

rasafras (637995) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219280)

"Further the fact that a man has been (rightfully) charged with a crime for shining a fucking laser at a plane like a dumbass has absolutely nothing to do with a safe, non-obtrusive, well-designed warning system that coincidentally also uses lasers because of their utility that is only invoked if a pilot strays into restricted airspace in the first place, which are likely to be small, private planes, as indicated in the article, and NOT commercial carriers with experienced pilots who know, and have the tools, to stay out of restricted airspace."

Very well said, and to add to your final point, I believe the idiot was arrested after shining it at a plane and then immediately afterwards at a helicopter trying to locate him. Thus, stupid people = bad, laser warning system = good.

Low-info article, and puny low-power lasers. (4, Interesting)

Shag (3737) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219502)

It just says that the light wouldn't be as intense as in the cases where people have gotten in trouble with their laser pointers.

That seems a little hard to believe at first, since a green laser pointer's power is only something in the milliwatts, and the AOPA article [aopa.org] mentioned in another reply (this is a fixed URL, incidentally) talks about a 1.5 watt laser. But that's reflected/diffused to create a 100-foot-wide line of light in a circle 10 miles from the laser, so I guess by sending the light off in all directions (not at all like your normal use of a laser) it's possible that it wouldn't be a problem.

Out here in Hawaii, the summit of Mauna Kea is an "informal" no-fly zone. There aren't any major flight paths that would cross it anyway, and since there are telescopes on it, folks have basically just agreed not to go flying over when we're trying to see things.

This has become a little more important in recent years, since the folks over at Keck [hawaii.edu] use a laser to ionize stuff in the sodium layer of the atmosphere and create an artificial "guide star" that they can then measure the light from to correct for atmospheric interference. This is part of their adaptive optics, I think. That's a 15-watt laser, which could really ruin a pilot's day.

And Gemini North [gemini.edu] , across the summit from Keck, is about to start playing with a big bright toy too.

They've got a pool of "plane spotters" who spend half a night standing outside on the summit with a walkie-talkie. If they see any planes that look like they might get in the way, they radio in to turn off the laser before anything gets zapped.

I'm going to try to do that, one of these days. Goodness knows I'm up there enough as it is.

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219050)

WARNING - Do NOT look at laser with remaining aircraft.

humm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219052)

+1 Lazors

I still don't understand (-1, Offtopic)

Eric(b0mb)Dennis (629047) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219055)

How you shine a laser into the cockpit of an airplane that's very high in the sky

Re:I still don't understand (5, Funny)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219070)

They probably send out F-16s to do that.

Re:I still don't understand (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219077)

Hello there! You're a retard. In the interests of keeping this area retard-free, please don't post here again. Thanks.

(If you agree with this statement, please feel free to mod it up. I would.)

Re:I still don't understand (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219328)

Hello there! You're a retard. In the interests of keeping this area retard-free, please don't post here again. Thanks
Hey buddy - didn't you see the laser no-posting-as-AC-zone warning?

Re:I still don't understand (1)

DarthMAD (805372) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219092)

Really, with a high powered telescope, I don't think it would be too much of a problem in many cases, and I'm sure that the warning system has a sophisticated tracking system, although I think it would be considerably more difficult for the idiots shining lasers into cockpits for the hell of it. The F-16 theory actually is plausible too- it would probably be considerably easier to shine a laser into an airplane's cockpit from another airplane.

Re:I still don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219118)

Really, with a high powered telescope, I don't think it would be too much of a problem in many cases

It's not a question of range, but the angle involved. Telescopes can't send light up into the air and then bend it round to go horizontal, can they?

Re:I still don't understand (0)

FLAGGR (800770) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219177)

Haha, too bad the whole point is to cut down on sending up the F16's because it costs too much. RTFA next time.

Re:I still don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219414)

omg you pwnd that guy. go tell your mommy so she can be proud.

Re:I still don't understand (4, Funny)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219104)

It's amazing how the pilots can look out the window and see the ground. Wonder how that works?

Re:I still don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219116)

Score 5, Insightful?

What the fucking fuck?

Re:I still don't understand (2, Informative)

maotx (765127) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219124)

The majority of air traffic in the no-fly zone in D.C. is generally low. You have Dulles, BWI, Reagen, military, etc. Visit the Lincoln Memorial to see what I mean. Traffic to Dulles is extremely high.

Oh, for the love of... (5, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219138)

This came up in some of the other articles.

"OMG, how could you shine a laser from the ground when the windows are on the *top of the plane*?!?!??!!11111one"

Um. I hope you can realized that pilots still have a line of sight to the ground for great distances around them, and only can't see the ground directly underneath/behind them for a comparatively small area.

The warnings would have a good chance of being initiated from an area for which the pilot has direct line of sight, or at least can diverge enough to get to the windshield or some other surface on the plane and be instantly noticed by the pilot.

Re:Oh, for the love of... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219372)

... or you can turn the power WAY up ...

... I mean WAY WAY up ...

Re:I still don't understand (1)

Devalia (581422) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219202)

Midichlorians.

Re:I still don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219215)

How you shine a laser into the cockpit of an airplane that's very high in the sky

There is a 30 cm porthole in the floor of the forward-left section of the cockpit. It is often opened either for fresh air, or if the pilot needs to relieve himself while flying the aircraft.

When this porthole is open (quite common on landing approaches) then it is very possible to illuminate the cockpit with a laser on the ground.

Re:I still don't understand (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219672)

From my knowledge of this proposed system and my experience flying in the airspace around D.C. this is intendend for civil aviation aircraft...most of which do not fly at very high altitudes (generally below 18,000ft and most even lower than that).

The question about this proposed system that I have is this (having flown inside of the Washington D.C. ADIZ numerous times):

The airspaces are designated to keep potential trouble makers out of those areas. The point of scrambling the fighters to intercept a violator is to have eyes on and provide the option to take this aircraft out if it is determined to have hostile intentions. If there will no longer be any interceptors coming, any hostile aircraft can simply continue on its present course and the interceptors may not make it in time should they be sent later on. So what is the point of the laser system at all? If we must be so afraid to allow this airspace to be restricted shouldn't it warrant someone there actually guarding it with shoot down capabilities?

It is my understanding that this system is intended to drive down the costs of sending out the interceptor aircraft. If those costs are not worthy to protect whatever airspace is restricted, perhaps the danger is not that great and the airspace should be opened. I believe this proposed laser system will do nothing but cost money itself, irritate civil aviators, and provide a false security for protecting the restricted airspace (which is not clear if it should really be restricted in the first place if the costs of sending intercept aircraft are not worth the protection of this space). We seem to be left with a restricted airspace that is prohibited for vital national security reasons which is merely protected by a system that says 'don't go near there' 0r something to that affect.

1.0 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219061)

frosty pith

boredom *can* be deadly... (4, Funny)

flawedgeek (833708) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219064)

What happens when the guy who's supposed to be monitoring the airspace gets bored?

Re:boredom *can* be deadly... (1)

FLAGGR (800770) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219145)

Then he waves a low powered laser around in the sky? Oh noessss! The deadly horror.

I doubt some trailor trash is going to get hired to do the job anyway, and hell I bet it will be controlled by computers, how could a human do it very good? (No I haven't read TFA) Now, what would happen if the computer got bored? Scary indeed.

Re:boredom *can* be deadly... (1)

curlyjunglejake (874251) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219302)

You must believe in the force, luke.

Re:boredom *can* be deadly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219694)

very good

very well very WELL!!!!

automated systems (1)

RedLaggedTeut (216304) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219315)

What happens when the guy who's supposed to be monitoring the airspace gets bored?

I guess the laser would be under automatic control and would be directed by an antiaircraft tracking and targetting system, so it would be best to take it seriously, since an armed battery might not be far away, especially if the guy manning it was bored before something to shoot at turned up.

Equipped laser test (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219069)

Good "test" of how effective lasers were to blind pilots is at Equipped.com [equipped.com] .



(First post!!!)

Not Quite So, Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219073)

Unauthorized pilots flying in restricted airspace is illegal and dangerous. The New Jersey man was missing a few brain cells when he aimed lights into the cockpit of a random aircraft in unsrestricted airspace.

Article from Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assoc. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219082)

See http://www.aopa.org/whatsnew/newsitems/2005/050408 laser.html
for more information.

Re:Article from Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assoc. (1)

MrScience (126570) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219404)

The lasers are visible at distances up to 10 nm during the day and 25 nm at night. Each turret is connected to a command center.

That's, uh, not very good distance [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Article from Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assoc. (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219611)

I assume they're talking about these [wikipedia.org] .

AAAHHHHHH! (1)

filtur (724994) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219086)

My Eyes!

Re:AAAHHHHHH! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219356)

They claim it is safe for eyes, but that leaves a lot of loopholes:

My balls! my balls! oaoaoowwwww!

Why note encode data in the signal (5, Interesting)

theDunedan (462687) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219093)

By that I mean, why just flash red-red-green. They could also indicate the best direction to turn to get out of the airspace as quickly as possible:

Red-red-green means turn right. Red-green means turn left. Red-red means stay straight. Green-green (for a few seconds) means you are now clear of the airspace.

the Dunedan

Re:Why note encode data in the signal (0, Offtopic)

theDunedan (462687) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219125)

Actually I mean "why not" encode data in the signal.

the Dunedan

Re:Why note encode data in the signal (1)

xENoLocO (773565) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219127)

Why don't they just use the damn radio like normal people?

Re:Why note encode data in the signal (2, Insightful)

DustMagnet (453493) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219204)

Why don't they just use the damn radio like normal people?

Because the pilots who fly into restricted airspace are not the normal ones.

Re:Why note encode data in the signal (4, Informative)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219678)

Why don't they just use the damn radio like normal people?

If the pilot has a radio in his plane, and he has turned it on, on what frequency would you call him?

  1. An airplane is not required to have a radio, unless flying in airspace where it is required. Some planes don't even have an electrical system to support a radio.
  2. Some pilots in an airplane without a radio carry a handheld radio (powered by batteries), but only turn it on when it is needed (i.e. takeoff and landing).
  3. An aircraft comm radio has 760 "channels" (different frequencies). 121.5 MHz is the univeral "guard" or "emergency" frequency. But, pilots typically don't listen to it unless there's a need to do so.

Re:Why note encode data in the signal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219260)

How about red-red-green means "turn on your radio before we shoot you down, you dumbshit!"

Re:Why note encode data in the signal (1)

flawedgeek (833708) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219266)

If the pilot hasn't noticed the lasers or turned on his radio, commonly that's the point at which they would scramble fighters and tell him to get out the old-fashioned way, which usually involves lots of chaff and flares. Then, if all else fails, they give 'em a sidewinder up the tailpipe.

That tends to get people's attention.

Re:Why note encode data in the signal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219307)

some people can't tell red from green (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_blind)

also even if you can tell them apart, a laser has a very narrow set of wavelengths which can be confusing alternating

Re:Why note encode data in the signal (1)

theDunedan (462687) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219561)

some people can't tell red from green

Wasn't thinking about that. Doh.

So why would they flash red-red-green anyway then? If some percentage of pilots is only going to see flash-flash-flash, why go to the trouble of having red and green?

Re:Why note encode data in the signal (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219524)

red - green - red: I mean it! Now turn back before I start using even more colors!

Why not just tell them to go away? (0)

StarWreck (695075) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219105)

Why shine a laser into the cockpit of a plane drifting into restricted airspace? The piolet will just think he's being targeted by another one of those supposed 'terrorist' attacks. Here's a SPIFFY idea! Just radio them and tell them they are entering restricted airspace... really difficult, huh?

Re:Why not just tell them to go away? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219198)

Yeah, it is difficult when, for whatever reason, the radio does not work.

USA Today [usatoday.com]
"The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, has been researching the use of alternating red and green lasers as a way to communicate with pilots flying too near the Capitol or the White House when they can't be reached by radio."

Slashdotter stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219406)

Grandparent is stupid, imagining that the AIRSPACE people designing a warning protocol for AIRSPACE violation would forget the obvious.

Just like in the gamma ray burst story, where people basically said "astronomers forgot that the Earth is round and half of it is on the other side". Well duh, they are fucking ASTRONOMERS, of course they know this.

I'm getting sick of it. Especially when it's modded up.

Re:Why not just tell them to go away? (1)

DustMagnet (453493) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219229)

Just radio them and tell them they are entering restricted airspace... really difficult, huh?

And when that fails, do you want to shoot them down or give them a little blinky light?

Re:Why not just tell them to go away? (1)

the pickle (261584) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219377)

Really difficult indeed if the plane has no radio onboard, or if the radios aren't working.

Why yes, I *am* a CFI.

p

Right.... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219106)

If a pilot is lost or confused, blinding him with a bright light is going to help him a lot.

If the laser power's high enough... (4, Funny)

ErikTheRed (162431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219114)

The signal to the pilot will be:

"Please fly what's left of your plane out of the restric... oh.... never mind."

NORAD recruitment... (5, Funny)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219117)

Sharks wanted for air traffic control duties. No previous aviation knowledge required but any laser-wearing experience would be advantageous.

Re:NORAD recruitment... (1)

gulfan (524955) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219233)

Dr. Evil: Are those fricken' sharks with fricken' laser beams attached to their fricken' heads?

Spoofing? (2, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219121)

So, now the terrorists can shine lasers (less-powerful ones) at planes if they want the pilot to take a different route.

restricted zones w/ auto-pilot (2, Interesting)

krunk4ever (856261) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219148)

pretty soon when an airplane gets close to a restricted zone, it'll slowly navigate away from it. the closer you get to the zone, the more it turns away, so by the time you're about to hit the zone, you're flying alongside it or away from it. and this auto-pilot system will be mandatory to all commercial jets.

Re:restricted zones w/ auto-pilot (2, Insightful)

the pickle (261584) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219396)

Except it won't, because commercial jets aren't the problem, and taking ultimate control away from the pilot is a Very Bad Thing(tm). Technology in aircraft is not going to solve the problem of terrorism.

p

Re:restricted zones w/ auto-pilot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219517)

With some imagination you can come up with a situation (ex: left engine failure) where the plane would crash if it's forced to obey a restricted zone, and would be saved (and no one on the ground hurt) if it's allowed to violate the restricted zone. So you need an override button somewhere. If the pilot has to convince a control tower to transmit a code to override the system for him, you can again come up with a problematic situation (radio broken, control tower on fire...). So we logically deduced that there needs to be an override button and it has to be in the cockpit. Now, tell me how that would stop a terrorist.

GMAIL IS DOWN! (-1, Offtopic)

BumbaCLot (472046) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219152)

THIS SUCKS!

Re:GMAIL IS DOWN! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219175)

ITs working fine for me.

Re:GMAIL IS DOWN! (0, Offtopic)

lfrandom (858433) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219227)

No its not, go away. BTW, mod me down for all I care. Hell my Karma is so bad that I don't even see my own comments while browsing.

So I RTFA... (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219169)

...and I've no idea what they plan to do with these lasers. I'm thinking that maybe they're small laser pointers and they're going to throw them at the planes in the hope that the noise they make will attract the attention of the pilot. Or maybe they'll render the words 'Wrong Way' using vector graphics on a convenient nearby cloud. Or maybe they'll stimulate the brain cells of the pilot and steer the plane by remote control [slashdot.org] . One possibility is shining the beam into the pilot's eyes to get his or her attention, but I'm embarassed to suggest that because it sounds a bit stupid.

The Alan Parsons Project. (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219170)

Turns out that the government contracted this one to Dr. Evil. Thanks to the not-so-good Doctor, his friend Dr. Alan Parsons, and a squadron of sharks with "laser "cannons mounted on their foreheads, the problem of out-of-bounds planes quickly ended.

"Minime! Stop humping the DC-10!!!

"This is NORAD" (5, Funny)

nxtr (813179) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219176)

"We hope that you do take caution as you fly out of restricated airspace with your remaining eye"

Fire a warning shot across her nose... (2, Funny)

The Lord of Chaos (231000) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219191)

I said across her nose, not up it!!!

Pvt. Asshole: I'm sorry sir, I'm doing my best

restricted airspace enforced by photon torpedo (2, Interesting)

Leontes (653331) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219195)

This to me sounds like an invisible fence for pilots, which isn't such a bad idea. This to me sounds like a novel way of dealing with malfunctions when other forms of communication are not available. I worry, though, that this kind of technology might be overused though, like let's have lasers advertisements or laser boundaries marking points of interest outside of a plane for passengers. I guess I wonder since visual distractions will only increase, whether this is just a stop gap measure into they can come up with a less potentially temporarily solution. There is so much light stimulus out there anyway, I wonder if there isn't another, less potentially universal way of creating a modern day lighthouse. Like a directed sonic screeching noise that would reverberate in the cockpit, a bit like those grooves on the side of the road when you are nodding off on a turnpike.

Re:restricted airspace enforced by photon torpedo (2, Interesting)

the pickle (261584) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219413)

If the FAA mandated GPS units in every aircraft, that would provide a simple fix.

Unfortunately, mandating a GPS in every aircraft authorised to operate in US airspace is prohibitively expensive and damn near impossible to enforce.

The lasers seem like a reasonable stopgap measure until something better can be figured out, but the real fix for pilots violating prohibited airspace is not to have so much damn prohibited airspace.

p

Wouldn't.... (2, Interesting)

deian (736923) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219199)

it make more sense to actually send a message to the pilots? I don't think that having a red/green laser beamed at them would be very smart(what would prevent a prankster from doing it?) and i don't think that as a pilot having a laster beamed at you is the most comfortable thing - panic?
and is it just a coincidence that they come up with this idea after they lockup a guy for beaming a laser at a plane?

Re:Wouldn't.... (2, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219284)

Yes. The FAA and NORAD, with their decades of aviation experience, never actually thought of just radioing the pilot.

I'm sure they will thank you for this insight, and implement it immediately. Of course, if the radio is inop, they'll have to come up with some other idea to warn the pilot.

Maybe just shoot it down.

Re:Wouldn't.... (1)

deian (736923) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219473)

Of course, if the radio is inop, they'll have to come up with some other idea to warn the pilot.

i fully agree with using a different method of communicating when radio fails,in which case lasers will suffice. however I dont think that this should be(come) the standard way of communication when a plane is in a restricted area.

I apologize for sounding like an asshole...didnt RTFA.

Be careful with this one. (4, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219243)

We allow laser enforcement of air traffic laws. Pretty soon, this includes the use of laser swords. The governments contract out to the Joint European Defense Institute to do the enforcing. Pretty soon, these laser-sword weilding do-gooders in their cool-looking robes start meddling in everyone's affairs, not just airplanes.

In related news ... (3, Interesting)

ssand (702570) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219262)

The FBI have charged NORAD under anti-terror laws for pointing lasers at aircrafts.

Just what we need (5, Funny)

curlyjunglejake (874251) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219288)

NORAD with big frickin lasers... My favorite part is the study that determined that the laser dose they were using was safe.

"Ok, now I'm going to shine a big frickin laser directly into your dome, please try to relax. Greeeaaat.. so, are you feeling blind? No? That's truly excellent. Ok, now I'm going to shine a slightly bigger frickin laser directly into your dome..."

Two in one! (3, Funny)

adolfojp (730818) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219289)

And if the plane decides not to comply, the laser can be used to guide smart bombs :-D

Cheers,
Adolfo

Re:Two in one! (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219355)

This would be those new anti-gravity bombs, that go up, instead of down?

Re:Two in one! (1)

daraf (739813) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219604)

Actually, there has been one recorded air-to-air kill with a laser guided bomb. From http://www.rjlee.org/aakill.html :

14 Feb: Bennett-Bakke. This was the famous laser-guided-bomb kill. The helicopter was on the ground at the time that PACKARD 41 released the GBU-10, but took off while the bomb was in flight. The WSO kept lasing the helicopter anyway, and the bomb guided straight through the rotor disc, destroying the Hughes 500 instantly. The kill was witnessed by a Special Forces team on the ground.

Re:Two in one! (2, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219662)

Right. From an aircraft above the target...:)

This guy [afa.org] was the F-15E pilot.

I first thought it said (3, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219329)

I first thought it said that they were doing to use Rodan (instead of Norad) to stop out-of-bounds planes. Come to think of it, the Rodan solution might be more effective.

News Alert: The SCO Angle (2, Funny)

killercoder (874746) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219341)

10 bucks says SCO files a patent for the process of warning a user using the red-red-green flash.

It would be hard to show previous use artwork.....and could be a ready cash cow.

Availability (1)

Freeform (838372) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219344)

I can see this working quite well most of the time especially at night when it would be unmistakable. How well would it work through clouds though? I suspect that there will still be situations when they will have to scramble the jets.

Use this (2, Funny)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219359)

They should get one of these gadgets [thinkgeek.com] . I hear they're becoming pretty popular. It's even USB!

Fair Play? (1)

btarval (874919) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219387)

What I want to know is whether it's legal to fire back? You know, self-defense and all. :)

5 years ago, it would've been. In our post 9/11 era, it's probably a terrorist act.

Soviet Russia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219415)

In Soviet Russia... The Becks come in early!..

Many Laser Sightings Last Year Were Govt Tests (5, Interesting)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219421)

I'm surprised no one mentioned it here yet ...

Many of the laser sightings last year appear to have been part of U.S. government tests of the system...

And anyone who doubts that, just search news archives of late last year - the U.S. govt publically acknowledged doing tests around the same time/areas of the "mysterious" laser sightings.

Ron Bennett

What good is a working eye... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12219440)

...when you are unable to...fly straight?

Laser illumination of aircraft and accidents (1)

Jim Logajan (849124) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219460)

Hundreds of incidents of laser illumination of aircraft have been documented. No accident has ever been reported to have been caused by it. It is not that difficult for individuals to perform their own studies to confirm or repudiate the published ones, as was done here, for example: http://www.equipped.com/lasers_airliners.htm/ [equipped.com] . On the other hand the document http://permanent.access.gpo.gov/websites/www.cami. jccbi.gov/aam-400A/Abstracts/2001/FULL%20TEXT/0107 .pdf/ [gpo.gov] indicates the problem has been around for years and individuals have been prosecuted for doing this.

Since existing laws and regulations appear to have been ineffective, more laws seem unlikely to reduce the problem, so the best recommendations would appear to make it part of the standard training of pilots on how to handle the incidents (if that is not already the case). All in my humble opinion, of course.

Re:Laser illumination of aircraft and accidents (1)

Jim Logajan (849124) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219487)

Sorry the second link is broken. It should be: http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS14005 [gpo.gov] (Figure 4 is interesting.)

This could be part of a more integerated defense (3, Funny)

ka9dgx (72702) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219468)

You could do a ranged ring system, with a 1-2 mile wide warning ring, then another mile of almost blindingly bright visible light. Once you've gone past no mans land, the switch to kill mode would take over. The Hi Power Tracking radar, and the 1kw infared laser start up to attempt to disable the plane. If there is still inbound, then fire up the chemical laser and smite them.

Of course, the first crispy airplane that didn't know because of fog, etc... might put a dent in the plan.

--Mike--

Cheaper Laser Eye Surgery. (2, Funny)

fumcr (773722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219535)

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captin speaking, if you will look out the right side of the plane and the laser eye surgery will begin.

Not a particularly good system (1)

pg110404 (836120) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219558)

Flashing a laser at an airplane as a warning is next to useless.

Since a laserbeam remains a relatively focused beam as it travels through space, the laser beam has to be shone directly into the eyes of the pilot to be seen.

What would be more effective is a directional radio frequency transmitter that sends a special signal to a receiver on the airplane in question. It could sound an alarm in the cockpit which means 'get the fudge out of here'.

Maybe they could turn it into an elaborate security game where they shoot a rocket equivalent of a paintball at the airplane, and if it hits, they have to play dead.

Re:Not a particularly good system (1)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219724)


Since a laserbeam remains a relatively focused beam as it travels through space, the laser beam has to be shone directly into the eyes of the pilot to be seen.


or... into... um... a... ah.. a cloud?


What would be more effective is a directional radio frequency transmitter that sends a special signal to a receiver on the airplane in question. It could sound an alarm in the cockpit which means 'get the fudge out of here'.


so... you're suggesting... planes should.. um... be equipped.. with... hm... ah... radio receivers? wow..


Maybe they could turn it into an elaborate security game where they shoot a rocket equivalent of a paintball at the airplane, and if it hits, they have to play dead.


now THERE's an idea.

Why All This Laser Stuff From the Federalis? (1)

the0ther (720331) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219615)

I think this laser in the pilots' eyes stuff is pretty much bogus crap. Now this lame-o laser story. What's goin on here? Is the government about ready to drop some crazy military tech on us soon? Seems like the world politcal situation is getting more serious by the day. God belss Texas!
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