/ Lasers, Drones and Aircraft

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mypyrex - on 12 Aug 2017
Been reading about people potentially endangering aircraft by shining laser pens at them and flying (recreational) drones in the vicinity of aircraft.

Apparently some of the lasers are sufficiently powerful to cause retinal damage and a drone ingested into a turbine or striking a cockpit windscreen or a control surface has the potential to cause serious damage. Do these people really not understand what they are doing?

I sometimes wonder what comments they make in "defence" of their actions. Does anyone know how they attempt to mitigate their actions?
marsbar - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to mypyrex:

Some people are just stupid.
marsbar - on 12 Aug 2017
wbo - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to mypyrex: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4216040/british-dad-son-malaga-laser-pens-hotel-blind-pilots-landing-p...

Wasnt there a pensioner a few years ago who was annoyed with noisy planes?
Jim C - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to mypyrex:

Did some bloke not just recently land his cheap drone on the brand new aircraft carrier on its sea trials and took pictures from the deck and no one challenged it ( or tried to blow it out of the sky) ?
Dax H - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to marsbar:

> Some people are just stupid.

Yep. A guy I know during the 2015 floods in Leeds programmed his drone to fly from his house in Barrick in Elmet to Kirkstall road, he plotted a route round the leisure park that was flooded then back home.
About a 10 mile round trip with no clue what it might encounter.
He had been watching helicopter footage on the news of the flooding in that area and wanted to capture some of his own.
A dick head of the highest magnitude.

In my opinion commercial grade drones should only be available to licensed, insured and trained people who have a vilid reason to own on.

As for green lasers, I can't think of a single reason for anyone outside of a science lab to have one.
mypyrex - on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to thread:
Have to say I've seen comments about the flying of drones in proximity to aircraft that have been along the lines of "What harm can they do?" and "An airliner is far too big to be affected by such a small object"

How can you educate such people short of showing them the remains of a fatal air accident caused by the ingestion of a foreign object.

Perhaps this for starters:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVq3dfDDFKY
Martin W on 12 Aug 2017
In reply to wbo:
> Wasnt there a pensioner a few years ago who was annoyed with noisy planes?

This one?

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/arrogant-businessman-shone-laser-jets-11898494.amp

IIRC the airfield was there, and the training flights taking place, long before he built his properties.
Post edited at 23:06
Dax H - on 13 Aug 2017
In reply to Martin W:

> IIRC the airfield was there, and the training flights taking place, long before he built his properties.

That doesn't seem to matter these days.
I have customers who have had to spend hundreds of thousands in both noise and smell abatement because their factory that has been there for years suddenly has houses built next to it.
StuDoig - on 13 Aug 2017
In reply to Jim C:

yea while it was up along side up in Invergordon (have been up there working in the harbour for the last week). Loads of locals out flying drones around the aircraft carrier taking pics, but only the 1 that landed I think.

In fairness, I suspect that the drones are near impossible (or at least completely impractical) for them to actively track let alone shoot down. Must be a real security worry - a larger drone could carry enough explosive to do some damage I suspect, esp on an aircraft carrier where it'd only really need to damage the deck enough to make it dangerous to launch / land aircraft to impact functionality.

That said, given that they were laid low by fishing rope fouling their props a couple of weeks before maybe they're concentrating on combating nylon rope......

Cheers,

Stu
Jack B on 13 Aug 2017
In reply to StuDoig:

> In fairness, I suspect that the drones are near impossible (or at least completely impractical) for them to actively track let alone shoot down.

Actually I think the carriers have several CIWSs. They are designed to quickly and automatically track incoming missiles, mortar rounds and artillery shells, and then shoot them down with a Gatling gun. They should be able to handle drones. But probably someone decided that 4500 rounds per minute of 20mm cannon shells was a bit over the top for chasing off photography drones, and switched them off.

wintertree - on 13 Aug 2017
In reply to Jack B:

> Actually I think the carriers have several CIWSs. They are designed to quickly and automatically track incoming missiles, mortar rounds and artillery shells, and then shoot them down with a Gatling gun. They should be able to handle drones. But probably someone decided that 4500 rounds per minute of 20mm cannon shells was a bit over the top for chasing off photography drones, and switched them off.

Small UAVs present a smaller cross section than missiles etc. You can also afford a lot more of them than you can conventional guided missiles. No information is public on the slew rate of the Phalanx CIWS but I'd hazard a guess 90 deg / sec and a 100 ms time to settle to an arcminute from that slew rate.

A few of those aren't going to be able to stop a swarm of small drones. On the other hand the drones aren't going to do much more than pockmark the carrier's flight deck.

If I wanted to cause a carrier trouble with small drones, I'd fly them in at wavetop level and hover under the end of the runway ready to jump up and cause foreign object damage to the launching aircraft engines. I might even use a switchable permenant magnetic circuit to anchor to the prow of the boat and wait without using power.

Still, I don't think the Royal Navy need worry, the chances of us ever having an operational squadron of jet aircraft based of our new "carriers" seems quite remote...
Post edited at 20:34
illepo - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to StuDoig:

surely some navy gentlemen with shotguns could have a bit of sport?
Rigid Raider - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to mypyrex:

Yes, a shower of lead pellets would be effective, only one would need to hit the target.

I reckon it won't be long before we see micro-drones the size of bees used for surveillance or released in swarms to deliver lethal or disabling chemicals to enemy personnel.
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StuDoig - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to illepo:

haha, aye - bit of practice before the "glorious" 12th.......

Is suspect drones being largely plastic would be much harder to pinpoint and track than shells - hard to differentiate between drone and gull for example esp as drones can change direction. Who knows though - suspect that the MOD are rightly a bit cagey about letting folk know their exact capabilities.....

I would have thought that some form of jamming would be the most effective method - not something that they could use quayside though I'd think!

Just have to hope that potential foes don't deploy lengths of nylon rope to foul their props again........

I think that everyone in the NE with a drone may have been out flying around the carrier this week!
Ferret on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to mypyrex:
As I get older, I find balancing my generally liberal attitudes with my increasing grumpiness over stuff that really has no purpose to exist/be owned and the impossibility of balancing liberal freedoms with a ban on such things is a bit of a conundrum.

Stuff I can't see a case to ban which I really think should be....

Drones bar professional use - I mean, what's the point? Yet another bit of geeky kit with basically no purpose. Want footage of floods - there will be umpteen news helicopters covering it. Want to peep on your neighbours sunbathing? Well, that's not covered and neither should it be. How many drone fliers are hoping to catch an eyeful of something they shouldn't vs. how many are making a genuine contribution to society with amazing footage of something or other.

Quadbikes bar professional use. Noisy and polluting and chew up tracks and countryside for no good reason. And driven on roads by eejits with skull mask helmets and the like and blaring exhausts? Antisocial.

Motorbikes capable of umpteen times speed limit, with super noisy 'race cans' - they don't need any more performance than they come off the shelf with and they are noisy enough to start with. Swapping the real exhaust back on for MOT and then putting your race can back on and hope not to get caught... thoroughly anti-social. Neds in souped up Subarus with 4" exhaust's with zero baffles the same... how is that flipping legal vs. what the manufacturers have to fit at point of production to meet noise and pollution regs?

Jetskies - is there actually even a professional use here or are they just an expensive waste of parts and fuel? Noisy and polluting. Even more so by the time they are dragged miles behind a car on the way too and from.

Mini motorbikes and the like for toddlers/small kids. They have legs - they should be using them. Battery power landfill trash likewise... kids don't need a battery power plastic 4*4. I just love having to dodge kids with no responsibility hooning around a park making a racket while others try for a quiet walk with their kids, dogs or even just try to sit in the outdoors in some semblance of peace and quiet.

Laser pens - no use whatsoever bar causing mischief as far as I can see

Disaster coverage by newscrews - world disaster in some remote place - I get the feeling that about 100 different news crews are all there, all duplicating the same footage and all using up precious food, water, hotel rooms, flights, taxis, helicopter bookings. I just love filmcrews in a 'copter' showing some poor sod stranded somewhere.... couldn't the chopper actually be involved in relief rather than flying reporters around? How do you balance need to report on a disaster fairly, not having stuff hidden that shouldn't be, freedom of press etc with the waste? What's the carbon footprint of sending anchor men/women and their crews around the globe constantly? Do I need to see reporter X stood outside downing street at 5am in the dark saying 'nothing happening here at the moment' etc.

How do we as a society balance personal freedom with the fact we are drowning under stuff that eejits buy and misuse (mainly as there is no genuine use to start with), or stuff that is really nothing more than a waste of resources that are scarce enough already.
Post edited at 09:24
Ridge - on 14 Aug 2017
In reply to Ferret:

<Applause>
Toerag - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to Ferret:

> Laser pens - no use whatsoever bar causing mischief as far as I can see

Astronomy - they're good for pointing out constellations.
jkarran - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to mypyrex:
I think by and large it's just people that don't really understand the problem they're causing. I don't think the emotive language of 'laser attacks' we often see is really very helpful, in most cases it's kids (or overgrown kids) with low power laser pointers dicking about. That said, there are a few more worrying accounts of apparently much higher power lasers being used. One of the pilots at my club was briefly dazzled on approach at dusk recently, luckily it was dual control and the other pilot was looking the other way so remained fit to land. First time it's been reported by a uk glider I believe. Almost certainly not malicious, just kids in the local village being kids but potentially serious.

Drones (very accessible capable and cheap remotely controllable helicopters) are I think a bigger issue. Stupid and thoughtless misuse will doubtless be the main problem but they have a lot of potential to be misused maliciously with relatively little investment or knowledge required by the operator. IMO they now represent by far the easiest way to bypass reasonably robust layered security to target civil aviation (among many other possibilities for misuse). They're so simple can't be 'uninvented' so the issue becomes learning to live with them and counter their misuse.
jk
Post edited at 13:26
jkarran - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to Ferret:

Most of those things are just bloody good fun!
jk
Tim Davies - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to jkarran:

11.30 at night persistently targeting an aircraft on final approach doesn't sound like children having fun.



jkarran - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to Tim Davies:

> 11.30 at night persistently targeting an aircraft on final approach doesn't sound like children having fun.

Why, because 'kids' don't live under flight paths, have attention spans too short to do the same thing a few times or because they are all tucked up in bed by 11:30? Who do you suspect and what do you believe their motives to be?
jk
Jim C - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to mypyrex:
> Been reading about people potentially endangering aircraft by shining laser pens at them and flying (recreational) drones in the vicinity of aircraft.

> Apparently some of the lasers are sufficiently powerful to cause retinal damage.

There was a young lad on TV that was given a LASER toy, which turned out to be a dangerous mislabelled powerful laser, the lad pointed it in his eye and lost his sight. The parents had no way of checking, or any idea that the retailer bought the batch in good faith that they were toy grade, but had no way of checking.
Post edited at 17:35
mypyrex - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to mypyrex:

My brother used to be involved with the harbour authorities on part of the Menai Straights and, from what he used to tell me, the irresponsible drone operators seem to be of the same attitude as some of the less responsible jet ski-ers in that they seemed to think that normal maritime rules did not apply to them.

Similarly I can imagine that some drone users are totally ignorant and dismissive of the Rules of the Air. A drone, after all, is an aircraft - albeit that many of them are "toys"
Hooo - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to Ferret:

So ban pretty much all recreational use of motor vehicles then? I have to say I'm inclined to agree with you.
Laser pointers seem to be quite popular with climbing instructors, for pointing out holds.
cb294 - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to mypyrex:

I prefer green laser pointers for presentations, as the red ones are barely visible in large auditoria, especially when you try to point at slides with lots of fluorescence microscopy images. However, on my way back from my last conference in the US security at LAX confiscated my green laser pointer from my already checked in baggage, which dutifully arrived in Frankfurt one day after me due to the special attention.

I can even understand why green lasers should not be carried in the carry on luggage, but in the checked baggage?
AFAIK they are not on the list of banned items either, unlike, say, camping gas canisters, bear spray, or Samsung explosive phones.

CB
Hooo - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to Jim C:

Do you have a source for this? It sounds very iffy to me.
1. No one should ever point any laser in their eye, under any circumstances. If the kid was too young to understand this, then the parents were irresponsible giving him even a legal laser pointer.
2. There is no way that a retailer bought mislabeled lasers from a reputable source. They must have come from some dodgy (almost certainly Chinese) internet supplier. The retailer was guilty of supplying a hazardous, illegal device. For someone to buy lasers from a dubious source and sell them as toys without even looking at them (they would have been obviously much brighter) is disgusting and I hope they were prosecuted.
Timmd on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to Ferret:
I came across something about people who steal the cannabis plants being grown by criminals, by flying drones around which cameras and heat sensors. Having found what they're after, they wait until the plants are about ready to harvest, and then steal them from the growers before they can sell them themselves.

It's illegal etc, but it's a cunning thing to do.
Post edited at 22:32
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Lusk - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to Timmd:

We abseiled down a block of flats off the chimneys when I lived in London once and relieved someone of their enormous grass plants they were growing on their balcony, three storeys up. Hell knows what they thought or said when they went to check up on them.
marsbar - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to Lusk:

I'd like to think continuing my earlier thoughts that they called the police to report them stolen
Jim C - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to Hooo:

> Do you have a source for this? It sounds very iffy to me.

> 1. No one should ever point any laser in their eye, under any circumstances. If the kid was too young to understand this, then the parents were irresponsible giving him even a legal laser pointer.
I will have a look online, it was a piece on TV where they interviewed the lad and his parents.

> 2. There is no way that a retailer bought mislabeled lasers from a reputable source. They must have come from some dodgy (almost certainly Chinese) internet supplier. The retailer was guilty of supplying a hazardous, illegal device. For someone to buy lasers from a dubious source and sell them as toys without even looking at them (they would have been obviously much brighter) is disgusting and I hope they were prosecuted.
I'm not sure I remember what they said about the retailer,I think you are right about the origin being Chinese.

wercat on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to Jim C:

these things are seen for sale on market stalls as well
Hooo - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to Lusk:
So stealing other people's hard work is OK by you then? And your 3 likers...
Post edited at 21:22
captain paranoia - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to Hooo:

You can buy (allegedly) 15W UV lasers for use in 2D engraving tables. That thought scares the crap out of me; 15W, no blink response. I doubt if many people buying them realise just how dangerous they are (even though they will engrave wood and metals...);
Hooo - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to captain paranoia:

Oh, I know that. I saw a blue laser on a market stall in Hong Kong that claimed to be 10W, so I asked to take a look. Scared the shit out of me. I don't know the true power, but it was several watts. It lit a cigarette. They were asking $300. To lots of idiots it's just a toy, I hate to think what anyone would do with it.
Tony Jones - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to Ferret:

Liked, and agree: however I do have a soft spot for noisy motorcycles (if ridden with respect for others).
Ferret on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to Tony Jones:

And there in lies the problem - for each of my personal hobby horses and grumps there will be others who disagree or who point out that their 'wasteful' use of fuel etc razzing around on a jetski is less than I use in my car going to the hills, or that I shouldn't go on ski holidays as the infrastructure is wasteful and spoils an otherwise beautiful mountain environment etc etc.

It's not easy being a woolly liberal, trying to please oneself, have some kind of social and environmental conscience and still be sensitive to others wants and needs.
DubyaJamesDubya - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to Toerag:

> Astronomy - they're good for pointing out constellations.

I was shown a laser pen that a friend owned. He'd imported it from America because it wasn't legal to sell ones that powerful here. He was able to show a light on a cloud. He had no interest in astronomy.
DubyaJamesDubya - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to Toerag:

> Astronomy - they're good for pointing out constellations.

Not a very enthusiastic response here:

http://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/forum/are-green-laser-pointers-bad-for-astronomy-discuss-t31369.ht...
In reply to Toerag:

> Astronomy - they're good for pointing out constellations.

Surely you'd only see the beam if it was misty and then you wouldn't be able to see the stars?
DubyaJamesDubya - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to Paul Phillips - UKC and UKH:

> Surely you'd only see the beam if it was misty and then you wouldn't be able to see the stars?

You'd think so but apparently they work but with many potential downsides (see link I provided)
elsewhere on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to Paul Phillips - UKC and UKH:
> Surely you'd only see the beam if it was misty and then you wouldn't be able to see the stars?

The atmosphere scatters* light so the sky is blue on a sunny day and sunsets/sunrises are red. Without the atmosphere on the moon it is a black sky with bright sunlight.

The atmosphere scatters the laser light too so you can see the beam.

You can see it with beams of sunlight through cloud https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=beams+of+sunlight+through+cloud&source=lnms&tbm=isch

*Rayleigh scattering
Post edited at 11:21
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Rigid Raider - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to mypyrex:

We got targeted by a laser taking off from Nairobi one night, probably at about 3000 feet. It's amazing how powerful they are and how bright and distracting.
nufkin - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to Hooo:

> I saw a blue laser on a market stall in Hong Kong

Can one get infra-red lasers (or UV ones, for that matter)? And, if so, would they still damage the eye if shone directly in?
tony on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to nufkin:

> Can one get infra-red lasers (or UV ones, for that matter)? And, if so, would they still damage the eye if shone directly in?

Yes, IR and UV lasers are available, and yes, they'll damage your eyes.
elsewhere on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to mypyrex:
The lasers are far more likely to damage the eyesight of an idiot user or an innocent bystander at close range on the ground.

At longer ranges (eg hundreds of metres for an aircraft) only a small proportion of the beam (eg 0.5m diamater) will hit the 7mm pupil of the pilot. Much less likely to cause permanent damage but the pilot is going to get a hell of a dazzling shock and might not be able to see what's happening in the darkness outside.

Actually, it looks like there's some official calculations taking into account typical beam divergence and power numbers.
http://www.lasersafetyfacts.com/hazard_distance_chart.html
mypyrex - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to elsewhere:



>but the pilot is going to get a hell of a dazzling shock and might not be able to see what's happening in the darkness outside.
Which is sufficient to create a dangerous distraction. Having done a limited amount of night flying as pilot I know how distracting ANY bright light can be. Any disturbance of a pilot's night vision has the potential to cause danger.


Dax H - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to Hooo:

> Do you have a source for this? It sounds very iffy to me.

> 1. No one should ever point any laser in their eye, under any circumstances. If the kid was too young to understand this, then the parents were irresponsible giving him even a legal laser pointer.

Agreed.

> 2. There is no way that a retailer bought mislabeled lasers from a reputable source. They must have come from some dodgy (almost certainly Chinese) internet supplier. The retailer was guilty of supplying a hazardous, illegal device. For someone to buy lasers from a dubious source and sell them as toys without even looking at them (they would have been obviously much brighter) is disgusting and I hope they were prosecuted.

It's not that easy. The amount of counterfeit stuff kicking around is shocking and it's very easy to slip in to the supply chain.
It's very easy for the dodgy guys to print off their own certificates of conformity that look legitimate.
My personal favourite waste of space is the CE mark, have you seen the alternative version, the China Export mark?
The only difference is a slightly smaller gap between the C and the E
elsewhere on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to nufkin:
> Can one get infra-red lasers (or UV ones, for that matter)? And, if so, would they still damage the eye if shone directly in?

A brief flash from a 1mW laser might do no harm but if you stare into it as a curious child might do who knows.

Some near infra red lasers (eg 850nm) are particularly bad because your eye is transparent & focuses onto the retina at these wavelengths but there's nothing to see before you go blind.

Slightly longer wavelengths (eg 1550nm) are also focused but the water in your eyeball absorbs the light before it gets to your retina so it is far less dangerous.

UV lasers are strongly absorbed so they don't get through to damage the retina. However that means they might burn off the cornea, one form of laser eye surgery used pulsed UV lasers to reshape the cornea by vaporising the surface.

Any laser than can burn or cut will do the same to your skin (ouch!) or you eyeballs (goodbye eyesight, there's a very gory first hand story about that).

In the past when using IR, visible & UV lasers in the we used goggles even for 1mW, I guess we were cautious.
Post edited at 12:37
Hooo - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to Dax H:

I understand this. I've bought stuff on Amazon, from a UK company, that had a CE mark and was blatantly non-compliant. I had a go at them and got my money back, but no admission that they were selling illegal items.
But, if you buy lasers to re-sell as toys then you have a responsibility to check the product properly, not just check it comes with a certificate. I know nothing about this case, but I can't believe a powerful laser wasn't obvious as soon as you switched it on.
nufkin - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to Ferret:

> Laser pens - no use whatsoever bar causing mischief as far as I can see

I just remembered they're also a massive effort saver if you have cats
nufkin - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to elsewhere & tony:

Interesting, thanks. Not sure what day-to-day use either would have in laser pen form, of course
Rosemary7391 - on 18 Aug 2017
In reply to Hooo:

"Laser" and "toy" (for children!) are words that simply don't belong in the same sentence in my opinion. I suppose some are low powered enough that it might be safe, but it doesn't give you a proper idea of how to handle a "normal" laser, such as a laser pen. Most commonly used in presentations I would have thought, so yes they are useful, (we also use them for optics demonstrations), but you need to be careful with them. If it looked like a normal laser pen type laser that could be why they thought it was okay, but that is more than enough to cause damage.
Ridge - on 18 Aug 2017
In reply to Dax H:


> My personal favourite waste of space is the CE mark, have you seen the alternative version, the China Export mark?

> The only difference is a slightly smaller gap between the C and the E

I think that's an urban myth. If you're going to produce fake items in China, complete with certificates of conformity and trademarks, you're not going to be fussed about fractionally altering the space between two letters so people can tell the difference.
nufkin - on 18 Aug 2017
In reply to Ridge:

> I think that's an urban myth. If you're going to produce fake items in China, complete with certificates of conformity and trademarks, you're not going to be fussed about fractionally altering the space between two letters so people can tell the difference.

Possibly, but I had to look into this a while ago when dealing with some CE-marked suspect items, and - as you'd expect - there's a proper format for the official CE mark. If it doesn't appear to comply then it's indicative of dodgyness (as I recall, the E had to be spaced such that it would meet the imaginary edge of the C if it were closed - or effectively an O, I suppose)
Toerag - on 18 Aug 2017
In reply to elsewhere:

> Some near infra red lasers (eg 850nm) are particularly bad because your eye is transparent & focuses onto the retina at these wavelengths but there's nothing to see before you go blind.

.....and because you can't see it your pupil doesn't contract making it worse . It amuses me that we have stickers on kit at work that says 'caution, invisible laser radiation' and 'avoid exposure to beam' - it's quite tricky to avoid something you can't see.....
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