Jason J. Keleher, professor and chair department of chemistry at Lewis University.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, nearly 7,000 laser strikes on aircrafts were reported in 2017.

“In cities like Chicago this problem is real as people are shining laser pointers on aircrafts during critical phases of flight, which is a big nuisance to pilots,” said Jason Keleher, a professor and chair of chemistry at Lewis University, who was approached by the aviation department at Lewis University to collaborate on a solution to this growing problem .

“Is it a bunch of kids? Is it accidental? Is somebody just like, ‘I bet you can’t hit that plane with those lasers.’ It’s really hard to identify who’s actually doing it. It’s a very interesting problem,” said Keleher, one he, the project’s principal investigator, was prepared to solve.

Keleher explains that although the lasers don’t cause permanent eye damage to pilots as they maneuver the aircraft, it does cause temporary flash blindness which may make it difficult for pilots to see control systems as they prepare for take-off and landing. He explains it is similar to the way high beams can disorient a driver upon direct exposure.

First Hybrid-Electric Airplane (Video)


An aircraft with a parallel hybrid engine – the first ever to be able to recharge its batteries in flight – has been successfully tested in the UK, an important early step towards cleaner, low-carbon air travel.
Credit: University of Cambridge

The United Kingdom is taking an important step towards cleaner, low-carbon air travel with the first successfully tested airplane with a parallel hybrid-electric engine. The novel aircraft is the first of its kind due to the ability to recharge its batteries while in flight.

This development comes out of the University of Cambridge in conjunction with Boeing, where they have worked to successfully develop a parallel hybrid-electric propulsion system for an aircraft that will use up to 30 percent less fuel than a comparable plane with a petrol-only engine.

To create the plane, the researches used the same basic principals as in a hybrid car. The aircraft uses a 4-stroke piston engine and an electric motor/generator. When maximum power is required – i.e. during takeoff – the engine and electric motor work together to power the plane. Once cruise height is reached, the motor switches to generator mode to recharge its batteries.