13 September 2012 Recent developments in aircraft protection systems for laser guide star operations
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The astronomical community's use of high power laser guide star adaptive optics (LGS-AO) systems presents a potential hazard to aviation. Historically, the most common and trusted means of protecting aircraft and their occupants has been the use of safety observers (aka spotters) armed with shut-off switches. These safety observers watch for aircraft at risk and terminate laser propagation before the aircraft can be adversely affected by the laser. Efforts to develop safer and more cost-effective automated aircraft protection systems for use by the astronomical community have been inhibited by both technological and regulatory challenges. This paper discusses recent developments in these two areas. Specifically, with regard to regulation and guidance we discuss the 2011 release of AS-6029 by the SAE as well as the potential impact of RTCA DO-278A. With regard to the recent developments in the technology used to protect aircraft from laser illumination, we discuss the novel Transponder Based Aircraft Detection (TBAD) system being installed at W. M. Keck Observatory (WMKO). Finally, we discuss our strategy for evaluating TBAD compliance with the regulations and for seeking appropriate approvals for LGS operations at WMKO using a fully automated, flexibly configured, multi-tier aircraft protection system incorporating this new technology.
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Paul J. Stomski, Paul J. Stomski, Thomas W. Murphy, Thomas W. Murphy, Randy Campbell, Randy Campbell, "Recent developments in aircraft protection systems for laser guide star operations", Proc. SPIE 8447, Adaptive Optics Systems III, 84474R (13 September 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.926673; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.926673

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