ASU announces agreement with SAF, celebrates 25 years in business

Aviation Specialties Unlimited (ASU) announced on Jan. 28 from Heli-Expo, as part of its year-long 25th anniversary celebration, the signing of an official agreement with French-based Secours Aérien Français (SAF- French Air Rescue).

Representative from ASU and SAF sign the agreement at HAI Heli-Expo on Jan. 28. Dayna Fedy Photo
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ASU will provide night vision goggles (NVGs), flight training, goggle maintenance, an NVG lab, and NVG modifications on 23 Airbus EC135+ aircraft. SAF announced in December that they were granted permission to use night vision imaging systems (NVIS) for six-months as an initial trial period. SAF is the first civilian operator allowed to use NVIS in France. Until January 2019, NVGs were restricted to governmental aircraft in France by law. It meant that all civilian operators flying EMS and SAR by night were restricted to fly unaided.

“Helping SAF become the first HEMS operator in France with NVIS capability is a tremendous honor,” said ASU senior business development manager Mike Guinn. “We will work closely with SAF during this initial six-month period to help them successfully prove that NVIS operations can help operators in France fly at night and complete missions safely in not only the Alps but throughout France.”

After the initial six-month test, ASU will train additional SAF pilots and crew members. ASU will also work with French authorities to train their staff on the use of NVIS.

“SAF recognized ASU as being one of the major worldwide manufacturers and NVG service providers, and ASU recognized SAF as one of the major helicopter operators in France, the first to fly NVG (in its Andorran operations),” said SAF head of operations François Millan. “Having linked ASU’s experts with us, in terms of aircraft modification, NVG import, training, and expertise overall, are key points for keeping the lead introducing this technology to the civilian world in the country. With the past experiences driven by ASU, a long time ago in the USA, but more recently in Ontario (Canada) and some other countries; having ASU as a partner is a unique chance for SAF to be an NVG European leader for NVG equipment, NVG Training, NVG maintenance, and aircraft modifications.”

For more than two decades, safety has been the leading mission of ASU through the use of NVGs. This year ASU celebrates 25 years of helping operators all over the world.

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“ASU is proud to partner with SAF as French market leaders into safe flight at night with NVGs,” said ASU president Jim Winkel. “The environment that SAF pilots fly in can be very austere as they save lives. Part of ASU’s mission for 25 years has been as a champion for the use of NVGs around the world. NVGs are one of the most important devices in use, leading to increased safety and situational awareness when flying at night. We have been privileged to assist operators worldwide with major operators in Australia, New Zealand, Colombia, South Africa, Austria, Canada, Poland, Brazil, Saudi Arabia — and now France — as they have embarked upon NVG flight. We are thrilled to welcome SAF into the NVG family.”

“Bringing such a technology, proven as being a massive safety improvement, helps accepting calls by night, complete them, in a more efficient, timely manner. Worldwide statistics show that once NVGs are being operated, the volume of calls being achieved by night also increases. In this way, SAF strongly believes that NVGs are the future in civilian SAR and EMS in France,” added Millan.

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