November 11, 2009
Years of direct involvement in this issue point to the inevitable conclusion that laser light shows and airport environments do not mix. For example, Las Vegas, Nevada, had a laser light show problem that quickly grew from a few isolated displays to an unmanageable number. The Las Vegas Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) recorded 51 incidents between October 1993 and October 1995 involving pilots who were irradiated by laser beams. This count did not include the numerous laser incidents that had been reported by the Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, or “Flight for Life” helicopters that operate in the Las Vegas area. Finally, in December 1995 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in response to the serious safety concerns of the aviation industry, issued a moratorium on laser light shows in Las Vegas.
This is not an isolated problem. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), there have been incidents involving lasers in California, Florida, Hawaii, New York, Ohio, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The circumstances of the laser encounters ranged from various levels of crewmember annoyance to startle and flash blindness. Laser light shows that encroach on airports have a serious impact on safety.
On February 26, 1997, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), in response to the growing laser light show problem, issued a safety recommendation that directed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to expedite the development of strict guidelines to be used when approving the location and use of laser beams. The FAA subsequently adopted the NTSB recommendation and issued recommended interim guidelines (RIGS) that pertain to laser activities in airspace. The RIGS were developed in agreement with the Society of Automotive Engineers Laser Hazards Committee, the FDA, the Department of Defense, aviation interest groups, and the laser industry. These RIGS will be incorporated into FAA Order 7400.2D, Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters.
The RIGS state, in part, that laser projections in proximity to airports are of primary concern. The RIGS establish airspace zones that are defined as laser free, critical, sensitive, and high visual cockpit-workload areas. The Bader Field laser light show falls within the laser free zone, and for this reason, AOPA is opposed to this laser location.
As you know, AOPA’s charter is to serve the interest of its members as general aviation aircraft owners and pilots. Our membership includes pilots who also have interest in competing industries, such as the entertainment industry, but we do not purport to represent their interests as commercial entities. AOPA has been very clear in its correspondence that we are not opposed to laser light shows in general; what we are opposed to are laser light shows in extreme proximity to public-use airports. On behalf of our general membership population we are concerned about any non-compatible land use around an airport and to this extent have publicly opposed the laser light show in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Melissa K. Bailey Director Airspace and System Standards Regulatory Policy
November 13, 1997
As the cold weather chills AOPA’s Headquarters in Frederick, many of us are inside generating new resources for flying clubs.
In my house, every Friday night is “Movie Night.” While the movies are rarely educational (I don’t think I learned anything from the Lego Movie), we look forward to the weekly opportunity to spend time together. Why not use the same concept for your Flying Club (with the addition of education, of course)?
AOPA Flying Club Manager Kelby Ferwerda posted the following on the AOPA Flying Club Facebook Page: “Recently I’ve talked with quite a few Flying Clubs about maintaining social activity through the cold winter months. Some clubs host Holliday Parties, others have Potluck Movie Nights. What does your club do to keep members involved during the chilly months?”
VOLUNTEER AT AN AOPA FLY-IN NEAR YOU!
SHARE YOUR PASSION. VOLUNTEER AT AN AOPA FLY-IN. CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>
VOLUNTEER LOCALLY AT AOPA FLY-IN! CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>
BE A PART OF THE FLY-IN VOLUNTEER CREW! CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>