Green Lasers and Runway Lighting Shock!
At the most crucial point during the landing and takeoff, it is vital for the pilot of an airplane to see the color-coded runway lights, in order to adjust his final approach with regards to altitude and airspeed. Should a pilot loose control at this point, it could have disastrous consequences.
- Airport Runway lighting and Green Laser Pointers
- The Colored Glidepath Systems
- Night Driving, The New "Green Laser" Danger.
Airport Runway lighting and Green Laser Pointers
There are various lights that identify parts of the runway complex at night and even in daylight they are turned on if the ceiling (cloud base) is less than 1,000 feet and/or the ground visibility is less than 3 statute miles (visual flight rules minimums). There is however, no standard requirement for this, so a pilot has the responsibility of determining if the weather is VFR., which among other things, basically means, that according to the Federal Aviation Regulations which says that; "when the ceiling or overcast cloud base is more than a 1000 feet above the ground, and the visibility is three miles or more, the weather is VFR".
Most airports have some type of lighting for night operations. The variety and type of these lighting systems Depend on the volume and complexity of their operations at a specific airport, airport lighting is standardized through out the world, so that pilots can identify and interpret their meaning instantly.
Dr. Anita Carstens from the C.S.I.R. (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) of S.A. who is attached to their Bio-photonic development department, said today in a radio talk-show followup on "RSG" Radio in South Africa, concerning the miss use of the "green laser" planetary pointer in general, and in particular their, disturbing, recent appearance in the vicinities of several major airports both local as well as worldwide. She said that a very real and potentially dangerous situation exists with regards to airplane pilots being blinded by them at a crucial juncture during landings and takeoffs.
When asked whether pilots could possibly be issued with specially tinted anti-" Laser-flash" spectacles, similar to the ones doctors used during Laser surgery, she answered that this situation has some uniquely different characteristics to those of the medical ones currently in use.
She went on to explain that whereas the existing spectacles are so designed as to eliminate glare whereas special lenses would have to be designed that would allow the full color spectrum to pass through, In other words, these existing lenses do not allow "color" to pass through them. Color perception by the pilot is a a crucial aspect of landings and takeoffs at night as he or she needs to identify several "color-coded" runway lights, instantly.These are, Red, Green, Amber, Blue as well as low and high intensity white lights.
The Colored Glidepath Systems
A precision approach path indicator (PAPI) uses lights that are installed in a single row, normally on the left side of the runway. A tri-color system consisting of a single light unit projecting a three-color visual approach path. A below the glidepath indication is red, on the glidepath color is green, and above the glidepath is indicated by amber.
*When descending below the glidepath, there is a small area of dark amber. Pilots should never mistake this area for an "above the glidepath" indication!
Also,omnidirectional taxiway lights outline the edges of the taxiway and are blue in color. At many airports, these edge lights may have variable intensity settings that may be adjusted by an air traffic controller when deemed necessary, and when requested by the pilot. Many airports also have taxiway center-line lights that are green in color.
Some of the most common beacons are:
*Flashing white and green for civilian land airports.
*Flashing white and yellow for a water airport.
*Flashing white, yellow, and green for a heliport.
*Two quick white flashes followed by a green flash identifies a military airport.
Night Driving, The New "Green Laser" Danger.
When asked if there was any possible danger of this behavior spilling over, and targeting train drivers as well as bus and truck drivers and perhaps even ordinary motorists, Dr. Carstens responded by saying, that although there had not been any reported incidents thus far, that such behavior could not be ruled out, as intensified and successful policing, as well as other counter measures were being put in place concerning the pilot blinding scenario, and making it more difficult for the offenders to continue, other avenues would then be exploited by them Unless these persons are stopped in their tracks, this would be their modes operand i.
Dr. Carstens is working in close co-operation with captain Marius Santos, director of A.L.S.S.A. whom I mentioned, in my published wikinut article on 11/03/2011, entitled; "This Green Laser Toy Can Kill".In closing, Dr. Carstens reports that she is seeing capt. Santos later in the week to discuss different strategies of eradicating the Green Laser problem, one of which, is the possible development of a special spectacle lens as well as stricter import regulations.
"Aeronautical Knowledge Handbook"