Is it possible to prevent/avoid laser beams with new technologies on windscreem?

  • $\begingroup$ Is it technically doable to shield only coherent light? Probably yes. Is it a good idea? Probably not; what if other plane's or the airfield's or PAPI or whatever light/beacon/whatever is based on coherent light, too? You wouldn't see it. $\endgroup$ – yo' Feb 15 '16 at 12:32

Only if you know the laser wavelength.

If the windshield uses a color filter, it can attenuate the light intensity at one wavelength while being transparent for other wavelengths, so the pilot can still see what is going on outside. The colors will look strange, but laser beams of the filter wavelength would have less intensity when viewed through this screen. This only works, however, if the laser wavelength is known beforehand, so the right filter can be used. All other light signals, approach lights and what not would need to use sufficiently different wavelengths so they are still visible.

Think of an approach in fog, rain or haze. Sometimes all the pilot sees is a faint glow - if the filter takes this away, the pilot will notice the lights only later, when they are closer and there is less time to react.

The other alternative is synthetic vision. The cockpit has a row of screens which show the images of cameras in the nose of the aircraft. This was already investigated by NASA for supersonic passenger aircraft, but met resistance from pilots. The reduced contrast of screens will make lasers merely a nuisance, but not harm the pilot. Clever software could even filter out too bright light sources.

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  • $\begingroup$ There is actually a legitimate use of lasers to warn pilots, its used by NORAD around the Washington DC ADIZ, but at wavelengths that are not harmful to the eyes. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Feb 15 '16 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ They were discussing the recent incident involving a laser on the radio today, and the "expert" they had in the studio commented that you can buy polarised glasses, which protect the pilots eyes from laser strikes. is this true, and could the same technology be used to create a windscreen? Does this offer greater protection than the colour filter method you mention? $\endgroup$ – Gavin Coates Feb 15 '16 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ @GavinCoates Sure, you can create a coating for the windscreen, but also note how those glasses aren't entirely transparent. I'm not sure the reduction in nighttime visibility is worth the relatively small chance of getting hit by laser beams. Plus the filter can only stop one wavelength, if somebody uses a different wavelength laser, then the coating won't do anything. Not to mention it will filter without discretion as to it being a laser, or just something the same color, so effectively you may be making the pilot red or green color blind... $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Feb 15 '16 at 17:09

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