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    Aviation operating environments, mitigating low-intensity laser threat

    WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OH, UNITED STATES

    07.31.2018

    Story by Megan Mudersbach 

    Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton

    By: Dr. Michael Reddix and Lt. Cmdr. Micah Kinney

    The Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton (NAMRU-Dayton) Vision Science Lab is evaluating low-intensity threat laser eye protection (LIT-LEP) for use in aviation operating environments. Dr. Michael Reddix, senior research psychologist, and Lt. Cmdr. Micah Kinney, aerospace optometrist, are leading this joint-service initiative in response to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Office of Aviation Forces’ request for assistance in mitigating the threat posed to flight safety and search and rescue operations by high-powered handheld lasers.

    The rate of nighttime visible-laser cockpit illumination incidents in commercial, military, law enforcement, air ambulance, and general aviation in the continental United States continues to increase. In 2016, 7,442 incidents of aircraft laser illumination were reported to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with 6,753 illumination events reported for 2017. This represents an approximately 25 fold increase in aircrew-reported illumination events compared to 2005, which reported 283 events. Regarding the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, 249 lasing events were reported for fiscal 2015-2017. The USCG reported 159 illumination events between fiscal 2011 and 2015.

    Handheld lasers can produce levels of solar radiant energy that exceed the maximum FAA exposure recommendations. Non-lethal continuous wave (CW) laser exposures can produce veiling glare, obscuring a significant portion of an aircraft windscreen while reliably reducing speed and accuracy of responses to aviation-relevant visual tasks during critical phases of flight. These factors are also capable of producing visual impairments such as temporary scotoma or a temporary disturbance in vision.

    In order to meet USCG laser-threat mitigation requirements, NAMRU-Dayton partnered with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Photonic Materials Branch (AFRL/RXAP) to design, manufacture, and evaluate a low-cost LEP spectacle with the goal of mitigating safety of flight risks primarily associated with laser aircraft illumination events. The LEP solution is designed to be compatible with both fixed- and rotary-wing USCG avionics.

    After conducting various evaluations findings demonstrated no safety of flight issues. The team completed manufacturing quality assurance, optical engineering and psychophysical evaluations, and preliminary flight simulator and ground testing. Additional evaluations included in- and out-of-cockpit color symbol discrimination, acceptable head-up display and night-vision device compatibility, and a USCG Aviation Training Center assessment and recommendation for flight acceptance testing, August–September, 2018.

    Although the prototype was designed specifically for USCG aircraft, this new technology could be applied to commercial and general aviation, air ambulance, and law enforcement aviation laser-safety requirements.

    For more information visit us at www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmrc/Dayton and follow us on Facebook @NavalMedicalResearchUnitDayton at Twitter @NAMRUDayton

    Related reports:
    Kinney, M.J., Reddix, R.D., Funke, M.E., Sapp, D.R., McCann, B.M. ((June, 2018). USCG Aircrew Evaluation of Low-Intensity Threat Laser Eye Protection: MH-60T, MH-65D, HC-144 Simulator and Static Aircraft Evaluations. Retrieved from Defense Technical Information Center https://www.dtic.mil/DTICOnline/downloadPdf.search?collectionId=tr&docId=AD1052966.

    Reddix, M.D., Funke, M.E., Kinney, M.J., Bradley, J.L., Irvin, G., Rea, E., Kunkle, C.L., McCann, M.B., Gomez, J. (June, 2018). Evaluation of Aircrew Low-Intensity Threat Laser Eye Protection. Retrieved from Defense Technical Information Center https://www.dtic.mil/DTICOnline/downloadPdf.search?collectionId=tr&docId=AD1052962.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 07.31.2018
    Date Posted: 07.31.2018 20:19
    Story ID: 286651
    Location: WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OH, US 

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