Progress has been made in fixing night-vision, latency and jitter problems experienced by pilots using the F-35 Joint Stike Fighter’s helmet-mounted display system (HMDS). But despite the prospect of a solution to this issue, aircraft maker Lockheed Martin also charted a possible alternative course using an HMDS with night-vision goggles (NVGs).
Night Flight Concepts is showcasing new night vision solutions this year at its Heli-Expo booth (No. 7841), along with its new laser armor and laser defense systems for civil operators.
Aviation Specialties Unlimited (Booth No. 3033) has been awarded the first FAA supplemental type certificate (STC) for installation of night-vision equipment on the AgustaWestland AW139 medium helicopter. The installation was done for Era Helicopters. Overall, ASU has performed more than 500 night-vision goggle (NVG) cockpit modifications on a wide variety of helicopter makes and models.
The adoption of infrared imaging enhanced vision systems (EVS) in rotary-wing applications has been slow because of a common misconception, that night safety is an “either/or” choice between EVS or night-vision goggles (NVG). So suggests Chuck Crompton, business development director for Lexavia Integrated Systems, Pensacola, Fla., adding that using the two technologies in combination may provide the best of both possible worlds.
The anticipated escalation in civil aviation night-vision-goggle (NVG) use might still be several years away as end-users await financing, according to industry experts, as opposed to waiting for continuing refinement of the Federal Aviation Regulations regarding standards for their use.
Aero Dynamix (ADI) has been granted EASA Part 145 approval following the completion of the first EASA STC approval for a night-vision lighting system on an MD902 helicopter.
Given recent NTSB recommendations on safety in EMS helicopter night operations, emphasis on training flight crews in the use of night-vision goggles (NVG) has increased. Two companies offering that training who are exhibiting at Heli-Expo 2010 are Aviation Specialties Unlimited (Booth No. 2101) and Night Flight Concepts (Booth 1024).
Early next year Night Readiness will unveil its 3.0 Virtual Terrain Board (VTB) night-vision goggle (NVG) training aid. The 3.0 system will add weather, a “fly-through database” and dynamic shadowing to the capabilities of the company’s 2.0 system, unveiled for civilian use in 2007.
Nivisys Industries received the first FAA TSO-C164 approval for its NVAG-6 night-vision aviator goggle. According to Nivisys, it is the first night-vision goggle (NVG) manufacturer to apply for and also first to receive FAA technical standard order (TSO) approval. “Nivisys decided two years ago that aviation safety hinged on FAA-approved NVGs,” said Gary Higman, manager of law enforcement and homeland security programs for Nivisys.
Choices that air medical operators will make about investing limited resources in safety equipment are price-sensitive. For this reason, enhanced-vision systems without night-vision goggles’ expensive recurrent training requirements may be seen as a more viable alternative by many EMS operators. However, in addition to choosing NVG or EVS, some HEMS operators are flying with both.