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Laser noob here. I don't know what the maximum range on a high powered laser is, nor a low-powered laser for that matter. Just wondering if this is at all possible. I mention four extremities because it would a combination of the four different laser readings of height. I guess it could be most useful over water, but things could get complicated if flying over rough regions with mountains and valleys, but could be helpful if use in conjunction with a map.

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  • $\begingroup$ It could work, but what problem would it solve? There is nothing wrong with the current radio and pressure altimeters. Lasers would also not work in a lot of conditions where other systems would so why? $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 7:20
  • $\begingroup$ First off, it would look cool. Maybe it's a less-expensive option for some types of planes. If we all kept the saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." , scientific breakthroughs would be few and far between. $\endgroup$
    – NormLDude
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ I agree, but a laser system would be worse, so why break something that's working? $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 10:22
  • $\begingroup$ Laser systems are better when you want more precision; they're not worse in all cases. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ I never mentioned 'breaking' anything. This is an idea, a thought, and questions pertaining to these ideas. $\endgroup$
    – NormLDude
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 10:35

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Yes, you could create an altimeter using a laser. And they exist; See Laser altimetry for aircraft and UAVs by Renishaw as one example.

Laser altimeters, however, have a significant disadvantage over radar altimeters: They can be obscured by weather, like clouds and rain.

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