Measuring Color Perception through Laser Mitigation Coatings on Aircraft Windshields

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Stanley L. Harriman
Randal J. DeMik
Ryan S. Phillips
Suling Li
Megan M. Zahos
Nick P. Kazanjian
Ehteshamuddin Arif
Mark D. Wolfrum
Joseph E. Burlas
Bobby Hill


Ground-based laser illuminations directed towards arriving and departing aircraft have increased in the past decade. A laser aimed at the windshield of an aircraft may distract a pilot and compromise safety. Previous studies provided empirical evidence of laser intensity in the flight deck from ground-based laser illumination events and the potential for adverse effects to flight safety. Most recent studies focused on testing the application of various coatings to aircraft windshields in order to reduce the effects of laser exposure to crewmembers. Safe and efficient flight operations depend on the ability of a pilot to see normal spectrums of color. Therefore, this study used the Ishihara Pseudoisochromatic Plates Color Vision Test to investigate participants’ color perception through an aircraft windshield coated with a photoresponsive nanocomposite film designed to reduce laser intensity from entering a flight deck. This study tested the hypothesis that there were no differences between color vision test scores when conducting trials with coated and non-coated windshields. Participants were individuals who held a current FAA medical certificate and held a minimum of a student pilot certificate (N = 104). Data analysis consisted of a repeated measures design that included within-subjects factors where each of the participants was tested from two trials, each under two conditions: coated and non-coated. The order of trials was altered using a counterbalancing technique which also provided a between-subjects factor. A paired-samples t-test was calculated to compare the mean of error by participants when taking the Ishihara Test through the non-coated windshield to the mean of the error by participants when taking the test through the coated windshield. No significant difference from the non-coated to the coated windshield was found (t(103) = 1.274, p > 0.05, n = 104). Findings suggest that effective color vision can be maintained through photoresponsive nanocomposite coatings.

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