This presentation will discuss the challenges that present itself to the users of lasers in an entertainment application. This session will include topics of interest covering a wide range of subjects. These will include a background historical perspective on the issues relating to laser and entertainment, specifically concerning outdoor uses of lasers. The regulatory authorities will be discussed and their roles explained. Terms specific to the laser industry will be explained as well as procedures used in a typical laser light show application. The current state of affairs with respect to the standards and recommendations that have been prepared over the last few years will be discussed.

Historical Recap

Several years ago, as a result of incidents that occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada, the FDA issued a moratorium on all outdoor laser light shows within 20 miles of Clark County. The incident that resulted in the moratorium involved a Southwest Airline aircraft that was illuminated by a laser beam as part of an outdoor show that emanated from a casino. This was one of many such reported incidents but it was the most dramatic as it resulted in the transfer of controls to the pilot from the first officer, who was actually flying the aircraft.

Prior to this incident, proactive members of the laser light show industry and members of the SAE G10 T Laser Hazards Subcommittee were working together to develop recommendations for the FAA. This committee was composed of laser light show representatives, FAA, FDA, military laser experts as well as civilian laser experts. This originally started out to be a laser light show problem but it was soon realized that the laser light show industry was only a small portion of the laser industry utilizing the National Airspace (NAS). Accordingly, more groups that were potentially affected by the development of recommendations and standards took part in the proceedings. This ultimately resulted in a report with recommendations from the subcommittee to the FAA.

During this entire process, it was realized that due to the special aviation related issues, a new laser safety standard addressing the safe use of lasers outdoors was needed. A committee was formed to develop the ANSI Z136.6 - Safe Use of Lasers Outdoors.

Additionally, it was also realized that the proper method of measuring laser light was critical to the success of the ANSI Z136.6 standard and compliance to the FAA 7400.2D/E document. This was primarily due to the need to develop acceptable methods to determine such values as the divergence of the laser beam. Accordingly, another standards writing committee was formed to develop the ANSI Z136.4 - Optical Radiation Measurements standard.

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