Lasers & Pilots Don’t Mix: Three steps to avoiding a problem in the sky

Lasers & Pilots Don’t Mix.

After a preflight briefing with an IFR Pilot student we taxi out to Runway 28 for departure for some RNAV approaches in Mason, MI (TEW). Fast forward about thirty minutes, we just completed our second RNAV approach onto Runway 28. I’m doing my best as a pretend controller to vector Dave back towards the final approach fix for his final approach of the evening. Dave has been doing an awesome job so far considering this is his first time doing RNAV approaches.

To switch it up on Dave, really so I can look at something different, I have him fly on the north east side of the airport. A few turns later on a 250 heading I clear him to join the final approach course. Without me reminding Dave he reduces the power and slows our clubs new Piper Archer to an appropriate speed of 90 knots and extends one notch of flaps. He turns onto the final approach course perfectly and I go back to scanning for traffic.

Dave slowly reduces power as we cross the final approach fix (FAF) and we begin our descent to our first step down altitude. Something catches my eye and it’s green and it’s bright!

I realize that someone is targeting us from the downtown area with a laser! I quickly have Dave climb and make a turn away from the laser. I then tuned up our local approach controller and told them what was going on and where I thought the laser came from. Approach had us stay on the frequency asked us a few questions then dispatched the police.

This is what the FAA suggests you do when you are hit by a laser as a pilot:

Anticipate — When operating in a known or suspected laser environment, the non-flying pilot should be prepared to take control of the aircraft.

Aviate — Check aircraft configuration and (if available) consider engaging the autopilot to maintain the established flight path.

Navigate — Use the fuselage of the aircraft to block the laser beam by climbing or turning away

Communicate — Inform Air Traffic Control of the situation. Include location/direction of the beam, your present location, altitude, etc. Once on the ground, request and complete a “Laser Beam Exposure Questionnaire” (i.e., AC 70–2).

Illuminate — Turn up the cockpit lights to minimize any further illumination effects.

Delegate — If another pilot crewmember has avoided exposure, consider handing over control to the unexposed crewmember.

Attenuate — Shield your eyes when possible (hand, clipboard, visor, etc.). Do not look directly at the laser beam and avoid drawing other crewmembers’ attention to the beam.

Do Not Exacerbate — Avoid rubbing of eyes and possibly inducing further injury. Evaluate — If any visual symptoms persist after landing, get an examination by an eye doctor.

In addition you should:

  • Immediately press the Ident button on your transponder — Then your location is saved on ATC radar tapes, using the Ident button authorities can plot out your location and pinpoint where the laser originated from.
  • Immediately advise ATC
  • Report the incident to the FAA in the link below!


Report a Laser Incident

FAA Laser Hazards In Navigable Airspace PDF




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