Dubai: BAE Systems engineers have developed a low cost, lightweight, flexible system that can block dangerous laser light to protect pilots and flight crew from hostile attacks.
Utilising a novel film the technique is selective in the way it prevents laser transmission, meaning a high level of natural light through can still shine though the canopy with minimal colour distortion. As a result, pilots are protected from dangerous laser incidents with no deterioration in vision.
Laser attacks targeting pilots and air crews are becoming a major concern across the world with most attacks reported to take place during take-off and landing. They are caused by cheap, high-powered hand held devices that are readily available on the internet. Results of these attacks include distraction, obscuring of instruments and dials, a high probability for short-lived ‘flash’ blindness and even permanent eye damage.
BAE Systems Executive Scientist, Dr Leslie Laycock said: “Lasers operate at specific wavelengths. A series of successful trials undertaken in a laboratory environment have proven our method is effective against a wide variety of laser wavelengths. We have been able to achieve a visible light transmission in excess of 70%. Our system allows the majority of the light through, providing protection without the need for heavily tinted industrial goggles. This allows pilots to more effectively see instruments and their surroundings, whilst simultaneously blocking the dangerous laser light.”
As technology advances, the wavelength of proliferated lasers may change. Due to the adaptability of this technology, pilots will always be protected as the film can simply be upgraded and selectively tuned to combat new laser threats. The next phase of development will see experimentation and commercialisation within the public sector.