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Fruit picker jailed for shining laser pen into RAF fighter pilot's eyes

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Fruit picker jailed for shining laser pen into RAF fighter pilot's eyes

RAF Leuchars Tornado jet was flying over Fife when the migrant worker directed the laser at the cockpit.

 

STV - 16 September 2010 12:52 GMT

 

A Romanian fruit picker who admitted endangering an RAF fighter jet by shining a laser into the pilot's eyes was jailed for four months.

 

The RAF Leuchars Tornado jet was flying low over Fife when the migrant worker shined a green laser beam into the cockpit.

 

On one occasion, when the cockpit had a green glow inside, the pilot was almost at stall speed and required high concentration for his task.

 

Romanian Radu Moldovan, 28,was jailed for four months at Cupar sheriff court.

 

Moldovan, a works supervisor at Cairnie Fruit Farm, near Cupar, Fife, had admitted that he culpably and recklessly endangered the safety of an aircraft by directing a laser device into the cockpit of a military aircraft.

 

In sentencing the migrant worker, Sheriff Charles Macnair told him that the UK courts "cannot tolerate such abuses".

 

The sheriff said: "The use of laser pens is soaring. Happily, to date, there has never been a crash caused by a laser pen but that seems to be as a result of luck rather than anything else.

 

"Distracting the attention of any pilot, in particular a pilot flying a fast jet, is an accident waiting to happen.

 

"The consequences of a Tornado crashing at or near Leuchars air base raises the most horrific prospect of death and injury to the pilot, the navigator, and anyone else who happens to be under the aircraft when it comes down.

 

"In my view, it must be made abundantly clear to anyone who uses or is tempted to use or misuse a laser pen of this sort, the courts of the United Kingdom will not tolerate such abuses."

 

He added: "I take into account your personal circumstances and that you have been of good behaviour and that you are generally living a useful life.

 

"But in your case I consider that there is no alternative to a custodial sentence."

 

Depute fiscal Laura Wright earlier told the court the Tornado had been heading towards Leuchars at around 9.40pm on Monday, August 16.

 

The pilot and navigator had been directed to a precision radar approach with the intention of overshooting the runway.

 

But as they prepared for the action, the pilot told his navigator that a laser light had been shone at the jet, and the light had penetrated the canopy.

 

It appeared the light had originated from the ground, and the crew contacted air traffic control to alert them to the situation.

 

At that point, the depute fiscal said, the plane had been five miles from the runway at a height of 1,200-feet and had overshot as planned.

 

The pilot had then been directed to conduct another approach and as he flew towards Cupar, he was again distracted by the laser beam entering his field of vision.

 

On this occasion, there was a flickering effect as though an attempt was being made to adjust the laser towards the Tornado.

 

The navigator had on this occasion been able to identify the source, and had marked its coordinates using the Tornado's on-board navigation system.

 

As the plane was positioning, it was again hit by the green beam of light but the pilot continued and landed the aircraft successfully.

 

The depute fiscal said that the coordinates had been passed to Fife Constabulary to investigate.

 

Officers visited Cairnie Fruit Farm and Moldovan admitted that he had tried to hit the underside of the plane when it passed.

 

His solicitor Hilary Eldridge said that her client had bought the laser on eBay for £4 and had not intended to cause any danger.

 

She said: "Mr Moldovan is a law-abiding, hardworking citizen with no previous convictions who came to this country to better and improve the life of himself and his family.

 

"He had been attending a BBQ at the fields outside and he tried to see whether the pen was powerful enough to reach the plane. He did this on two occasions, with no comprehension of the potential dangers it posed to the crew on board."

 

 

 

Image Credit: Jail term: Radu Moldovan sentenced for laser pen crime Pic: © Alan Richardson

 

 

STV

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Damn right he should be jailed... I don't care what he says shining a laser at a plane is dangerous no matter where you are trying to hit... should have been locked up for longer... as 4 months will most likely be around 4 weeks.

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Oh come on, apparently he wasnt aware of the dangourse. Its not like someone would get blind, its a low yield laser. But sure he did cost the taxpayers some gasmoney and the danger it could have caused but prision for that. A fine would have been enough.

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Oh come on, apparently he wasnt aware of the dangourse. Its not like someone would get blind, its a low yield laser. But sure he did cost the taxpayers some gasmoney and the danger it could have caused but prision for that. A fine would have been enough.

 

No I disagree and I am sure Fastcargo would as well as he got lit up by a low light laser a few weeks back while driving a jet about...

 

The plane was landing at RAF Leuchars... doesn't matter that it was a lowlight laser it illuminated the cockpit not once but twice... What would have happened if the pilot had been distracted and made a mistake and crashed into a house or a school? In the UK there has been a huge increase in people lighting up Jets both military and commercial in either the landing or take off pattern.

 

Even though its low power laser hitting the cockpit could be magnified by angles etc... blinding the pilot for a few seconds or making it difficult for him/her to see instruments etc... Jailing people for doing this is the right idea as its downright stupid as well as dangerous. If you where in a passenger seat of a jet landing would you be happy with some fool lighting it up with a low yield laser ??? for sure I wouldn't be...

Edited by Slartibartfast

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Jail is well done for the Fruit Picker or everyone who is thinking to do the same.

Two months ago a 8 year old boy was caught trying to blind pilots reaching Congonhas Airport here in São Paulo.

The boy was doing this every night for months until police finally identify the source at the top of a building and for their surprise was a 8 year old kid.

A lot of reports was written by airline pilots about how dangerous and distracting the laser is at final approach.

So,don´t think 4 month in jail is too much because hundreds of lifes are in danger right now and safety flight authorities are predicting that sooner or later we will have a tragedy because this (laser poiting at aircraft) is becoming a "funny" joke for idiots around the world.

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Oh come on, apparently he wasnt aware of the dangourse. Its not like someone would get blind, its a low yield laser. But sure he did cost the taxpayers some gasmoney and the danger it could have caused but prision for that. A fine would have been enough.

 

It amuses me when people try to talk knowledgeably about stuff they have no clue about....

 

http://www.laserpointersafety.com/pilot-effects-overview/laser_pilot-effects/laser_pilot-effects.html

 

And here's a nice picture of an actual incident:

 

framegrab01_youtube_helicopterhit.jpg

 

And here's a paper done by the FAA and DOV on the subject of laser illumination of aircraft:

 

http://www.faa.gov/library/reports/medical/oamtechreports/2000s/media/0409.pdf

 

Some highlights:

 

The aircraft was on a right base leg, level at 6,000 feet MSL, when the captain was exposed to a bright light in his right eye while looking for downwind traffic through the right window. As the flight continued, the captain found it increasingly difficult to see because of the burning and tearing he was experiencing in that eye. On final approach, he relinquished control to the co-pilot who completed the landing. Examination revealed the pilot suffered multiple flash burns to his right cornea.

 

The pilot-in-command (first-officer) reported that the laser beam sweep through the cockpit, resulting in temporary blindness and pain in his right eye, in addition to after-image effects that impaired the vision in his left eye. The pilot could not focus or interpret any instrument indications and was disoriented for several minutes requiring the captain to assume control of the aircraft

 

I was lucky, the idiot who lit us up on short final was already pretty far to the side of the aircraft. The laser lit up the cockpit, but the captain didn't get directly hit, while I was unlucky enough to look at the laser and got flashblinded temporarily.

 

There is a reason lasers come with warnings not to shine them in your eye....even ridiculously low power ones. Laser light shows have burnt out CCDs on cameras as well...think about how much power a so called low power laser can have if it burns out a camera.

 

FC

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The navigator had on this occasion been able to identify the source, and had marked its coordinates using the Tornado's on-board navigation system.

 

As the plane was positioning, it was again hit by the green beam of light but the pilot continued and landed the aircraft successfully.

 

The depute fiscal said that the coordinates had been passed to Fife Constabulary to investigate.

 

I am bloody impressed by their fast work to finding the guy.

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Damn Romanian fruit pickers.:fu: Sorry I couldn't help myself. Jackass could have easily got a lot of people killed, wonder if it was more than just stupidity?

Edited by Icarus999

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The problem has become (for once) a lack of publicity of the problem. When the first crash occurs because of a laser, assuming the crew survives to tell that's what it was, THEN there will be a slew reports about it.

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I would have no problem with him being kicked the f*ck out of the country. He's not some stupid kid, he's an adult, he should have known better and there's no excuse for what he did.

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Might be useful if a recon plane outfitted with EO scouted the approach areas over the country and reported all cases of the Shining.

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I totally agree with the sentence.

It is not just an annoyance. It is dangerous!!

How would you like to be a passenger on an Airbus halfway through approach at Heathrow or JFK when some DUMBASS lights up the cockpit.

If the authorities don't come down with harsh consequences for doing this,someone will eventually light up both sides of the cockpit.(just for fun or for terrorism)

Yes,there are some pretty stupid people out there.(Gee,I didn't know it was dangerous)

They are interfering with a cockpit crew while in flight.

The penalty should be extreme.

OK,rant over.

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Yea Jedi -- in this case, lack of publicity, as well as availability. They are marketed as "fun" devices. This kind of thing happens. For example, going into debt to banks is was marketed to us as fun. We "upstanding citizens" all told each other bank debt was fun. We "should" know that pointing lasers, or going into debt, are dangerous things. We fail.

 

 

I am bloody impressed by their fast work to finding the guy.

They didn't find anything. The fruit picker came out when he heard they were looking. That's one responsible, upstanding man. :drinks: They got lucky, this time. I used to climb towers. Way out in the country U.S.S.A. some bubbahs would take rifle shots at tower climbers. Finding somebody like that who knew they did wrong and tried to hide would be impressive.

 

 

I bought a flashlight once, it had both white and red light. Turns out I didn't read the label. The red was laser. I threw it away cos I don't like being around "fun" lasers. I saw a laser once. Never want to again.

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Wow forget expensive SAM systems......just arm your grunts with cheap laser pointers. It is a silly concept that military fast jets can be crippled by something like this. Looks like some R&D boys need to get on the stick, or atleast the RAF pay the money to upgrade their AC.

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Don't be absurd....your sarcasm is off the mark.

 

Laser pointers make horrible combat zone weapons, because they basically are a big green 'drop a JDAM on my forehead' arrow pointing at their location. Considering the potential targets are probably armed, on the lookout for threats (SAMs, AAA, etc), and are high speed or high alt (exception being helos), a laser pointer isn't a great idea to try to down an aircraft in that regime.

 

But, laser pointers make good terrorism weapons. They are unregulated, are great against 'soft targets', either commerical aircraft or military aircraft in the slow and low part of the envelope in a critical phase of flight. They can be stored, distributed and hidden easily, and the target probably can't instantly retaliate either at the moment of illumination because they are not armed, or aren't weapons hot at the time.

 

As a person who has been blinded by one, it's not fun to shine one in someone's face.

 

FC

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Key point... they do make terrible weapons, hence the alleged sarcasm. What they are is incredibly useful tools for ground troops. Every ground troop in the Army has an AN/PEQ-15. It is completely obsurd to think every G.I. on the ground is begging for a JDAM if he uses his PEQ! Besides, you can only see it with NVG's on. The point is, if lasers are such common modern battlefield tools, then why is it that some crap you can buy at Office Depot can cripple a Tornado? Seems as if there are canopy coatings,laser safety glasses and visors and things of that nature that would be so common place now, for above the ground types, that this should not be a real issue for military aircraft. I was issued "Ballistic Laser Safety Glasses" when we had the old YaG laser with the serious NOHAD. But we never wore them, because we treated the LRF and all laser devices as a "Direct Fire Weapon". Too bad Romanian Fruit Pickers do not have that kind of tight weapons discipline. Being blinded by a laser is no joke but it seems as if it is an easily defeatable threat. Is it? Or, why is it not?

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The reason your eye protection worked is because they were tuned to that laser's exact wavelength.

 

Here a good link explaining laser eye protection:

 

http://www.dermweb.com/laser/eyesafety.html

 

The point to take away from this is that coatings must be tuned to that specific wavelength, or the laser will simply go right through. Even low power lasers can go right through your closed eyelid and leave an afterimage that takes several minutes to fade from your vision(I experienced this first hand with a handheld barcode scanner...don't ask).

 

Trying to make a multi spectrum coating that covers most laser frequencies is easy...if you willing not to be able to see out the window.

 

The main problem is not necessarily one of damage (though as pilots, it's VERY important to us)...it is one of distraction. That's why nobody addresses your invisible YaG laser...because unless you're pointing it directly at an NVG wearer, no one is going to notice (at least until he hears a 'pop' as his vitrous fluid starts boiling).

 

When we got illuminated, it was as if a flash bulb was set off right outside the window. I lost my foval vision for several seconds, while the Captain got distracted when the whole cockpit lit up with the bright green glow. Now, the good thing is that it was off to the side, so he didn't get flash blinded, and had no issues continuing the approach (other than a quick "What the f*** was that?"), while I cursed and got the position on the knucklehead.

 

Read the whole article, plus my posts. Distraction in the traffic pattern is the main concern for the handheld lasers, stuff that can't be combated against with technology because of the nature of laser light.

 

FC

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A polarizing screen will only work if they're polarized in the same direction. The guy with the handheld laser literally only has to rotate it a few degrees to defeat that.

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How's the guy going to know which way to rotate or which way his pointer is polarized? We're still talking about the man in the street, not special forces, right?

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