In order to protect pilots, laser eye protection has been developed in recent years. But it still wasn’t the best solution, because, while it effectively filters out the red or green color in common lasers, it also affects the pilots’ perception of the instrument control panel. Basically, pilots can’t properly read the information on the panel while wearing laser eye protection.
This is where the CALI (Commercial Aviation Low Intensity) technology comes in. The Personnel Protection Team at AFRL created a commercial version of the cockpit compatibility design software that had been developed for the Department of Defense (DoD). This lense system is able to filter out the dangerous laser light, without affecting the light coming from the instrument panel.
The next step was to discuss with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) the positive impact this technology would have in commercial aviation, outside DoD. The bad part is that there are certain administrative/legal issues stopping FAA from acquiring CALI for pilots.
The good news is that, after law enforcement reached out and inquired about laser eye protection, during last year’s violent events, a group of aviators from the Washington State Patrol actually tried out the CALI system.
Their positive feedback about CALI’s ability to not distort control panel colors shows that it would be a great asset for cross country law enforcement pilots. AFRL continues to collaborate with FAA for a future implementation.