Pilots, FAA concerned with laser decorations - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Pilots, FAA concerned with laser decorations

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

The Federal Aviation Administration, and some pilots, say a Christmas decoration using laser projection is a possible safety concern.

Laser projection systems like ones manufactured by Star Showers have gained new popularity in late 2015 as families across the country decorate their homes for the holiday season.

The relatively new product projects holiday-themed laser streams at consumers' homes, which some believe gives the illusion that traditional lights have been installed.

“I guess I didn’t even think of that, I assumed they weren’t powerful enough,” said Carterville resident Hannah Chvatal on Friday.

Southern Illinois University aviation instructor Mike Robertson said the lasers used in the decorations can reach as high as 13,000 feet.

Cape Girardeau pilot Paul Salmon holds nine world records in the aviation industry, several of which are for long-distance flights.

“I was flying over El Paso on the return trip when cabin illuminated green,” Salmon recalled. “I made the mistake of looking over my shoulder to see what it was, and it blinded the vision in my right eye for almost 15 seconds.”

“It’s like anything else; if people use them properly and don’t shine them up in the sky, it’s not much of an issue,” Salmon explained.

“We need our pilots to see during takeoff and landing,” said Mike Robertson. “The general public probably doesn’t want a pilot of a commercial aircraft distracted in such a critical phase of flight.”

Robertson said the FAA is looking into new windshield technologies that will filter out laser light as popularity continues to grow.

Product manufacturer Star Showers has mirrored FAA warnings, and includes safety advisories with their product.

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