Airbus Tests Laser-Deflecting Windscreens for Aircraft Cockpits
17 June 2014
In an effort to counter aircraft accidents caused by laser interference that can potentially blind pilots, aircraft manufacturer Airbus has signed an agreement with Lamda Guard to test special, reflective cockpit windshields.
The Canadian company makes use of metamaterial-based technology developed at the University of Moncton and the University of New Brunswick. A nano-composite metamaterial film will be placed in a thin layer under cockpit windows, and will be able to selectively block and control light coming at a different angle even at the highest power levels.
According to Lamda Guard president and CEO George Palikaras, the partnership is a milestone in the optical application of nano-composites as it will provide a solution to one of the air transport industry's biggest problems. Earlier this year, the FBI released a report revealing that as many as 3,960 attacks with lasers against aircraft were made in 2013 on US soil alone.
Since 2005 there has been a sharp rise in the number of incidents in which lasers are pointed at airplane or helicopter pilots, the FBI announced earlier this month. The bureau has expanded its reward program which offers to up to $10,000 for information that can lead to the arrest of laser attackers.
One of the more recent recorded incidents occurred on 23 May, when a laser was shone into an airplane at 5,000 feet as it was approaching LaGuardia Airport in New York. The source of the beam was later tracked to a residential area eight miles away. In March a man was sentenced 14 years in prison for pointing lasers at police and hospital helicopters.