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Old 02-19-2016, 09:52 PM #1
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Default Any ideas why laser/aircraft incidents doubled in 2015?

As you may know, laser pointer incidents reported to the U.S. FAA nearly doubled last year. I'm asking for your help, trying to find potential reasons why.

In the four years 2011-2014, there were about 3500 to 4000 incidents per year. But last year, the number was 7700.

Here is a chart comparing the daily incidents for 2014 and 2015:



I am not aware of any particular event or change that could cause this. So I'm checking here on LPF in case there is some new technology, or new marketing (like Wicked on steroids...) that might explain this.

I thought of other explanations, but generally, not much changed during 2015:
  • The FAA has not changed reporting requirements for pilots.
  • Pilot groups have not made an effort to get pilots to send in more reports.
  • There does not seem to be any unusual upswing in the weeks after major nationwide news coverage of laser events. Just a steady growth (e.g., no real copycat effect).
  • No major changes in prosecutions, or in media coverage of prosecutions.
  • No big changes that I can see in the power or numbers of lasers being sold

So again, any ideas as to why 2015 is so different from the previous four years would be greatly appreciated.

-- Patrick Murphy, LaserPointerSafety.com


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Old 02-19-2016, 10:16 PM #2
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Default Re: Any ideas why laser/aircraft incidents doubled in 2015?

Probably a few reasons!

Media coverage - more people now know about high powered lasers due to media coverage of incidents involving aircraft.

Advertising - more advertising from Chinese companies.

Internet - Popular YouTube channels and blogs talking about lasers and posting videos of lasers. Many of them failing to mention safety. Even look at our own member StyroPyro - several of videos have went viral. He at least mentions safety!

Price - High powered pointers are cheaper and more accessible than ever.
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Old 02-19-2016, 10:23 PM #3
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Default Re: Any ideas why laser/aircraft incidents doubled in 2015?

Quote:
Originally Posted by diachi View Post
Probably a few reasons!

Media coverage - more people now know about high powered lasers due to media coverage of incidents involving aircraft.

Advertising - more advertising from Chinese companies.

Internet - Popular YouTube channels and blogs talking about lasers and posting videos of lasers. Many of them failing to mention safety. Even look at our own member StyroPyro - several of videos have went viral. He at least mentions safety!

Price - High powered pointers are cheaper and more accessible than ever.
For 2 of these -- media coverage and price -- I personally have not seen a major change in 2015, compared to the 2011-2014 period when FAA laser reports were holding steady.

Did prices really drop by a factor of 2 in 2015? And media coverage has been about the same. (Plus I analyzed incidents after major nationwide events; there did not seem to be any related upswing afterwards.)

I am not aware of advertising, so I would be interested in any more info. Have people seen significantly more ads in 2015 than in the previous years?

A rise in Internet videos is an interesting thought. But how many people go out and seek lasers after watching? And what proportion of those would aim at aircraft? It doesn't seem like it would have a big influence but maybe I'm wrong.

Has there been a big upswing in people visiting LPF in the last year (indicating increased interest)?

Thanks for the ideas!
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Old 02-19-2016, 10:51 PM #4
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Default Re: Any ideas why laser/aircraft incidents doubled in 2015?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmurph5 View Post
For 2 of these -- media coverage and price -- I personally have not seen a major change in 2015, compared to the 2011-2014 period when FAA laser reports were holding steady.

Did prices really drop by a factor of 2 in 2015? And media coverage has been about the same. (Plus I analyzed incidents after major nationwide events; there did not seem to be any related upswing afterwards.)

I am not aware of advertising, so I would be interested in any more info. Have people seen significantly more ads in 2015 than in the previous years?

A rise in Internet videos is an interesting thought. But how many people go out and seek lasers after watching? And what proportion of those would aim at aircraft? It doesn't seem like it would have a big influence but maybe I'm wrong.

Has there been a big upswing in people visiting LPF in the last year (indicating increased interest)?

Thanks for the ideas!
Media coverage has went up as a result of laser incidents going up - although it wouldn't explain all of the new incidents. Price has dropped significantly since 2011 - you can buy a 50-100mW green pointer for ~$8 now - that wasn't the case in 2011.

As for advertising - it's everywhere. Just look at this fairly popular android app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...gic.geek&hl=en

Right there on one of their pictures is a 303 type laser (Typically 50-100mW) for $7. They have other models too - My Dad has one from that app. That's just one app - but that alone has three quarters of a million downloads. That's only on Android, it's also available on the Apple App Store.

Internet videos definitely have an effect - I wouldn't be here if I hadn't stumbled upon a video of a laser burning some 8 years ago. Technology has improved since then, lasers are more powerful, there are more colours, prices are cheaper and videos are even better made. In the end you have something that's even more impressive than it was 8 years ago. Combined with the increased exposure from some of these viral videos and some of the big channels, you end up with more people having an interest in lasers.

Now of course - all of these new laserists aren't going to be going out and intentionally aiming lasers at planes - a fraction will be doing it for malicious reasons. You then need to consider the other fraction, that is the stupid fraction. The people who saw this awesome burning laser on the Geek app for $7. The people who don't know any better than to not aim their new toy at an aircraft. Common sense isn't so common.
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Last edited by diachi; 02-19-2016 at 10:53 PM.
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Old 02-19-2016, 11:13 PM #5
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Default Re: Any ideas why laser/aircraft incidents doubled in 2015?

here's a song to explain why people pointing laser at air craft.

- twinkle twinkle little star

-now i wonder what you are?

-point a laser at the sky

-twinkle twinkle flashing light

-now i know that what you are

-it's a plane crossing the sky

-now the FDA is on my tail..

-i will be going to jail...

-the report is on the news...

- more laser strike is on the news.

-the percentage is now increase.

- the police is on alerts.

- no more laser for all of us......

the end.

anyone with a good singing voice can use my lyrics..... for best result sing to the beats and tone of the original twinkle star...

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Old 02-20-2016, 01:19 AM #6
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Default Re: Any ideas why laser/aircraft incidents doubled in 2015?

Popularity, technology advancements and price point are 3 major factors.
Hand held lasers used to be $2600 verses $70 now and cheap ones are <$10
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Old 02-20-2016, 02:51 AM #7
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Default Re: Any ideas why laser/aircraft incidents doubled in 2015?

Is there a way to find out LPF membership numbers over time? Chart/graph would be helpful. Nerds, like me, love visual aids. Activity by posting category, I suspect, may also have some 'reveals'.
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Old 02-20-2016, 03:52 AM #8
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Default Re: Any ideas why laser/aircraft incidents doubled in 2015?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laser Chick View Post
Popularity, technology advancements and price point are 3 major factors.
Hand held lasers used to be $2600 verses $70 now and cheap ones are <$10
Yes, laser prices have dropped. But my specific question is: what is different about 2015, compared to the four prior years 2011-2014?

Were laser prices around $2600 during 2011-2014, and then they dropped to $70 or $10 in 2015? I don't think that is the case!

(Remember, the number of laser incidents held steady in 2011-2014 at about 3500-4000 annually. But then in 2015 they nearly doubled to 7700. What happened in 2015?)

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Old 02-20-2016, 04:10 AM #9
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Default Re: Any ideas why laser/aircraft incidents doubled in 2015?

Quote:
Originally Posted by diachi View Post
Media coverage has went up as a result of laser incidents going up - although it wouldn't explain all of the new incidents. Price has dropped significantly since 2011 - you can buy a 50-100mW green pointer for ~$8 now - that wasn't the case in 2011.

As for advertising - it's everywhere. Just look at this fairly popular android app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...gic.geek&hl=en

Right there on one of their pictures is a 303 type laser (Typically 50-100mW) for $7. They have other models too - My Dad has one from that app. That's just one app - but that alone has three quarters of a million downloads. That's only on Android, it's also available on the Apple App Store.

Internet videos definitely have an effect - I wouldn't be here if I hadn't stumbled upon a video of a laser burning some 8 years ago. Technology has improved since then, lasers are more powerful, there are more colours, prices are cheaper and videos are even better made. In the end you have something that's even more impressive than it was 8 years ago. Combined with the increased exposure from some of these viral videos and some of the big channels, you end up with more people having an interest in lasers.

Now of course - all of these new laserists aren't going to be going out and intentionally aiming lasers at planes - a fraction will be doing it for malicious reasons. You then need to consider the other fraction, that is the stupid fraction. The people who saw this awesome burning laser on the Geek app for $7. The people who don't know any better than to not aim their new toy at an aircraft. Common sense isn't so common.
I think Diachi is definitely onto something here, that Geek app is how I first found out about portable lasers being so cheap, and I know probably 6 or so others who use it and have gotten lasers off it. BUT none of them have (that I am aware of) either on purpose or accidentally ever hit a plane, satellite, etc. I wonder when the geek app started blowing up?
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Old 02-21-2016, 12:09 AM #10
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Default Re: Any ideas why laser/aircraft incidents doubled in 2015?

As i see it there can be a few factors that lead to this increase:

1 - many more lasers being out there
2 - more laser owners shining them at aircraft
3 - pilots reporting a larger percentage of 'incidents', possible falsely so

One problem is that we cannot really get a good figure for 1. Lasers are usually bought online, shipped from china labeled as flashlights and such, so there aren't good sales numbers compared to say the amount of beer sold by supermarkets.

A larger number of (new) laser owners shining them at aircraft might be possible. Perhaps as lasers get cheaper they are regarded more as toys and people are more reckless with them. Then again, that would probably correlate with more laser injuries in general, and there seems to be no data of that going up rapidly.

So perhaps it IS the pilots reporting more cases. Not because they are instructed to, but perhaps they consider the option more often. Awareness of lasers might just have increased, and pilots could report seeing any colored light as a laser, regardless if it actually is one or not. Afaik noone actually verifies that unless someone is prosecuted for shining a laser at an aircraft which is quite rare.

I think the third option is most likely to be the cause here, as there is no sudden dramatic price drop at early 2015, no is there any indications of other people that pilots getting hurt by lasers more frequently.
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Old 02-21-2016, 12:31 AM #11
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Default Re: Any ideas why laser/aircraft incidents doubled in 2015?

Hey pmurph5, "What happened in 2015?" More incidents were reported, that is what happened.

If we knew exactly what happened, we would be mind readers and all of us would be billionaires. The most likely causes = more pilots jumping on the reporting wagon, the prices now are at "toy" levels so you have irresponsible fools with lasers in their hands and many, many more sources selling lasers.
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Old 02-21-2016, 07:17 PM #12
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Default Re: Any ideas why laser/aircraft incidents doubled in 2015?

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...all of us would be billionaires...
If that happened, wouldn't it kind of cancel everyone out?
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Old 02-21-2016, 08:23 PM #13
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Default Re: Any ideas why laser/aircraft incidents doubled in 2015?

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3 - pilots reporting a larger percentage of 'incidents', possible falsely so
Not just pilots.

I suspect in the past a greater percentage of reports had to do with actual lasing incidents where a laser actually targeted a plane/helicopter, etc,.

Now, anytime a pilot sees a laser beam, or they even think they might see a beam, they report it.
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Old 02-22-2016, 12:52 AM #14
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Default Re: Any ideas why laser/aircraft incidents doubled in 2015?

Which is a problem i suppose. Obviously pilots, or anyone else, should be protected against attacks using lasers.

The question is the difference between just seeing a laser pointer in use vs that of actual injury. In case of actual injury i fully support finding the person(s) responsible and prosecuting them. If it just is a sighting of a beam going off in some random direction i'd say there is nothing to complain about though.
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Old 02-22-2016, 10:31 PM #15
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Default Re: Any ideas why laser/aircraft incidents doubled in 2015?

Take pmurph5 seriously. He is one of the good guys. Have known him for decades.

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Old 02-22-2016, 11:12 PM #16
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Default Re: Any ideas why laser/aircraft incidents doubled in 2015?

I'm definitely starting to feel like pilots are reporting any laser they see even if it wasn't directed at them. Otherwise it makes no sense. Did lasers double in popularity in 2015? No. Did prices massively fall? Not really. Did people become bigger jerks? Probably not.
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