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Technological Upgrades


From a technical standpoint, Jim Winkel, president of ASU, notes that L3 and Harris manufactured NVGs have been recently TSO certified. “The FAA and these OEMs are finalizing a process, whereby NVGs currently operating via STC supplemental approval can be recovered to TSO. This will enable operators and inspectors to easily confirm that a Harris (formerly known as ITT and Exelis) or L3 manufactured NVG – which has been recovered to TSO – is acceptable for flight with any approved NVIS STC or TC,” he says. “Additionally, operators who have invested in these approved, but older, NVGs will have an opportunity to upgrade to higher performance, without the cost of purchasing a new NVG.”


A significant step forward in NVIS technology is the constant and consistent improvement in the goggles. “It was not that long ago that the latest and greatest NVGs were 1,600 FOM (figure of merit). Now, that figure has moved to 2,400 FOM along with green and white phosphor. The basis for the success of the NVIS cockpit of today is allowing the color displays, true color annunciators, and maintaining the instrument’s true colors,” says Stubbs.


Looking ahead, it appears that NVG weight reduction is within reach. “Eventually a lighter and smaller digital system will be developed. There is also potential for a system that has multiple types of sensors incorporated, such as thermal, along with low-light image intensification. One other possibility is light amplification through biology, but this is pretty far off,” says Aldous.


With regard to weight reduction, ASU’s Kim Harris notes that the basic design and weight of NVGs have remained largely unchanged over the past 20 years and ASU will reveal a new lighter weight NVG design in late 2018.


Another important forecast upgrade, which would be primarily limited to the law enforcement sector, will be new dual-mode covert lighting capabilities that could be used with steerable searchlights, as well as landing and taxi lights. Stubbs says, “It is such a huge advancement from where we were as an industry just five years ago. We recently completed an STC in which the landing and taxi lights were 50 percent brighter than the original and less than half of the power requirement, and with the covert system the aircrew were able to easily identify terrain characteristics over 10nm away.”


As NVIS technology matures with a proven safety record, a hot- button issue that continues to remain has to do with how FAA NVIS STCs and TSO items are


accepted by both TCCA and


EASA. “As an industry, we are working with the various regulatory agencies and developing a dialogue specifically to work through these challenges,” concludes Harris.


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