Laser strikes on aircraft and helicopters have risen over the years, and laser pointers are increasing in power and decreasing in price.
Lasers can distract and even harm pilots during critical phases of flight and can cause temporary visual impairment. Over 6,750 laser incidents were recorded in the USA in 2017, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. And in 2016, over 1,750 laser incidents were reported to the UK Civil Aviation Authority and Transport Canada Civil Aviation.
Deflecting laser strikes
Satair and Metamaterial Technologies (MTI) are working together to tackle the issue.
Last year, Satair signed an exclusive global multi-million dollar distribution agreement to bring MTI’s metaAIR laser glare protection eyewear and visors to all aviation and military markets.
George Palikaras, MTI, explained how his solution works: “It's a very advanced piece of eyewear. Our equipment basically deflects light. It works like a mirror. As the light comes in through the cockpit into the close vicinity of the eye, it reflects specific wavelengths of light – a green laser, for example – and it basically allows this glaring effect to disappear, allowing the pilot to safely operate the aircraft.”
He added: “And one of the key aspects of this innovation was being able to make it colour-balanced. When you have a green filter in front of your eyes, everything looks magenta. If you're a pilot, you don't want to change the colours of your instruments or the runway lights by just wearing a piece of eyewear.
"This eyewear is specifically formulated to avoid any kind of polar deviation, allowing pilots to safely fly and use their equipment.”
Kasper Tranberg, Satair, said: “We've seen commercial airlines and commercial pilots being disrupted by laser strikes, mainly on approach, both in Europe and in the US. This problem has been increasing, impacting both operational and crew safety, as well as [overall] safety for the airline.”
He added: “George has invented a very innovative product which will cater for the safety of the pilot, and hence for the [overall] safety of the passengers on board, meaning that the pilots will not be exposed to these strikes from outside and they can safely land the aircraft.”