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Aviation Specialties Unlimited (ASU) hosted the inaugural roundtable discussion at the Helitech International Expo in London in early October to discuss night vision operations in Europe.
ASU of Boise, Idaho, are a leading provider of night vision imaging systems (NVIS) and expertise. Having been responsible for training Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilots and inspectors, it is hoping to bring that experience into Europe, where NVIS procedures and practices are still not widely standardized.
Attendees included representatives from the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club (ADAC) — the leading helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) operator in Germany — as well as senior figures from HEMS and search-and-rescue (SAR) operators across Europe.
The event was chaired by Kim Harris, ASU’s director of business development and sales. He said that while night vision goggles (NVGs) are being used more and more in Europe, the bulk of the experience of night vision operations is held by the operators rather than the regulator.
“The goal of the roundtable discussion was to begin a conversation, exchanging ideas and information from all sectors that involve aided night flight,” he said. “I am pleased to say that we achieved our goal of beginning the conversation, asking questions, and exchanging information on a professional, non-competitive basis.”
In launching the collaboration between ASU, the end-users and the regulatory bodies, the U.S. company is aiming to identify common issues as well as solutions, and increase the European Aviation Safety Administration (EASA)’s confidence in the use of the technology so that NVIS can be more widely adopted to improve safety.
Speaking after the event, Harris was optimistic about the future expansion of NVIS utilisation in Europe. “As the greater safety provided by aided night operations continues to become recognized by more operators and government entities, questions and operational issues will continue to arise,” he said. “Government agencies and regulators will encounter increased demand for operational NVIS approvals including aircraft NVIS modifications.”
The next European NVIS roundtable is to be held at Helitech in Amsterdam in October 2018, and Harris said the goal would be to expand the number of participants and organizations, adding depth of knowledge and experience for all to draw from.