Evidence Against Aircraft “Laser Attacks” Not Credible (An Editorial)

I recently read in the news that a man was sentenced to 30 months in prison (March 2013) for shining a green laser at a landing aircraft after his identity was discovered. The evidence against him is bizarrely unhelpful in trying to establish the case, however.

No argument in defense of legal consequence for people who shine lasers at aircraft, to me, has an ounce of merit to justify a law that costs thousands to send to trial and enforce rather than, instead, simply acquiring or requiring eyewear to combat such an insignificant distraction. The evidence offered has done absolutely nothing to convince me that “laser attacks” are nothing more than a petty quibble over a single blinking light. It’s no greater threat than Cosmic Bowling is to people who go bowling.

Take for instance, the case of a police cruiser who has pulled someone over at night and has red and blue strobes flashing. Why isn’t that banned? That’s a blinding hazard to oncoming and same-direction traffic, that could result in fatalities, but isn’t a federal crime.

Take for instance, the case of people who drive at night and refuse (or by incorrect alignment) to switch down from brights to normal headlights when passing oncoming traffic. Where’s the federal ban on that, punishable by 2 years in federal prison?

How about airline companies put down a few pennies, instead of lobbying, toward developing a flip-down preventative eyeglass device, that can be flipped down and back up again without using your hands? Welders use protective eye gear when staring directly at intense light, and have a device they can flop down with a simple nod of the head, instead of walking around with blinders on all the time. It’s not inconceivable that a device could me made that doesn’t tint the line-of-sight window view, but is capable of deflecting the scatter light of laser beams. I mean, we’re not talking about being flashbanged.

How is it that people who make the argument that committing such an “attack” endangers the lives of untold flight crew and passengers who are inside a multi-ton flying barrel of jet fuel, yet the law protects the pilot — instead of the more common sense law that should instead require pilots be equipped with laser-deflecting eyewear? How many taxpayer dollars must be spent on jail housing and upkeep for “laser attack” defendants, rather than the perhaps $100 PAIR OF GLASSES that could have prevented it, especially when no such crash has ever occurred?

Below is a video on the EarthSky page (from the sentence immediately above), that attempts to demonstrate the amount of glare involved from a “laser attack” but very falsely shows the amount of light entering the cockpit to last an absurd length of time. We’re not talking even a single second of glare, but a near-incalculably-brief fraction of a second’s worth of time. There are two videos further below that demonstrate how brief the “attack” lasts.

At what point did laws go into effect that punish people for something that COULD HAVE caused a wreck, but didn’t? The pitcher at a baseball game seems to have a far more enormous opportunity for getting struck by batted baseballs (considering that being struck by baseballs has occurred, while pilots crashing as a result of “laser attacks” have not), but yet baseball is not outlawed. The reason would appear to be that the pitcher is the one taking that risk.

I, personally, have terrible night vision. My own personal night vision is routinely interrupted by normal headlight glare to the point that I personally avoid driving at night whenever possible — but this does not warrant that EVERYONE ELSE change what they do to suit me. Also, that would put burden ON ME to wear corrective eyewear in the prevention of a crash. That would also put the burden on ME to abstain from driving at night, but mysteriously doesn’t apply to pilots who have trouble with random iddle-biddle blinky lights when piloting a GIANT BARREL OF JET FUEL at thousands of miles per hour carrying untold flight crew and passengers.

These two videos show such “attacks” being made, from the perspective of pilots, but remarkably failing to establish any kind of credible point of view. If you are a pilot and you fly at night and have trouble seeing after being “attacked” by laser pointers, then YOU need to stop flying planes at night, because that is not the kind of pilot I want flying a plane that I am riding! The airline or air-support enforcement division you work for is apparently too cheap to invest in a pair of protective EYEWEAR to remedy the problem and instead must invent laws that carry a bizarrely more manpower-hogging price.

“Doctor! It hurts when I twist my arm in this unnatural direction!”
“Then stop twisting your arm in an unnatural direction.”

Why doesn’t the American military have computer-accurate outposts installed that shine laser pointers at oncoming aircraft, to blind them, if the situation is so dire?

Wouldn’t it be cheaper to develop a window film that deflects such light without tinting the windows, so that the “attack” is nothing more than a simple blink?

Here are a few noteworthy comments from the CNN article’s comments. I was not able to verify the authenticity of the degree-holders’ claims (of holding a degree), but that fact does not simultaneously hypocritically justify the naysayers’ responses in defense of the ruling —

Please add your comments below. Perhaps there is a simulator I can run through, to establish an accurate night-vision blindness perspective, and then be “attacked” by a laser to demonstrate the problem?