Rules and Regulations: Aviation Night Vision Goggles
The use of aviation night vision goggles provide a specialized capability to carry out flight missions during night or low-visibility conditions.
However, as technology in aviation evolves and integrated systems progress, aviation night vision goggles and other devices must also operate under stringent rules and regulations.
Availability of Aviation Night Vision Goggles
Night vision imaging systems are becoming more and more available in airborne law enforcement, commercial flight, civilian emergency services, and other specialized areas of aviation. Before, night vision imaging systems and technology was only used in military applications. This means that more and more flight providers can conduct night flight operations.
These operations are governed by rules and regulations that all providers must adhere to for their safety.
Let’s discuss the rules and regulations of night flight operations.
Conforming to Requirements
Aviation professionals who wish to utilize aviation night vision goggles have a wealth of guidelines and regulations to follow. It’s essential to conform to these rules to ensure a safe and successful flight operation.
The NVIS Team
While operations involving night vision imaging systems focus on a sole pilot, depending on the governing body, there is an underlying rule that the minimum airline crew must include one pilot and one NVIS crew member. This is the regulation implemented by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
When performing operations to and from a helicopter emergency medical services landing site, the NVIS crew must be composed of a pilot and a technical NVIS crew. On the contrary, that is not the regulation implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States for flight missions departing or landing to emergency areas.
Night Flight Concepts, a US-based global provider of aviation night vision goggles, equipment, training, repair, and maintenance, shared that the FAA’s restrictions are outlined in the flight manual procedurals for aviation night vision goggles, as approved by the organization.
Typically, for unimproved landing zones, there must be two crew members trained in operating aviation night vision goggles. The two crew members can assist each other in obstacle prevention and avoidance, as well as to enhance situational perception.
In the United States, law enforcement and emergency medical services aircraft operate with a single pilot. A Bell 206 or a Bell 407 helicopter is built to hold one pilot, one paramedic, and one nurse all donning aviation night vision goggles.
Generally, the paramedic and the nurse will offer assistance to the pilot, as needed, as they approach unimproved landing zones. As for law enforcement aircraft, typically, the flight operations include one pilot only.
However, in urban areas, law enforcement airborne units may include one pilot as well as one tactical officer. The tactical officer will be responsible for working with navigation, communication with the ground crew, and managing addresses.
EMS flight operations follow FAA’s Part 135 regulations. On the other hand, law enforcement units fly under FAA’s Part 135 or Part 91, depending on the actual mission they must conduct. The primary authority is derived under specific operational specifications.
Operators must adhere to aircraft lighting compatibility and modifications before they can operate night vision equipment.
In newer aircraft, the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) performs the needed NVIS modifications. All the added equipment requires an NVIS Supplementary Type Certificate (NVIS STC) installation.
The flight manual supplement (FMS) of NVIS governs whether the night vision goggles are acceptable to use in flight operations.
NVIS modifications in aircraft require, above all else, prime management endorsement. After this, the local civil aviation authority (CAA). The CAA will give a more detailed outline of all other rules and regulations implemented by their organization.
During this time, while aircraft operators comply with the NVIS modifications (avionics stacks, instrument panel, overhead, etc.) as well as completing aviation NVG training, they can also be working hand in hand with the CAA to complete the rest of the requirements.
The use of aviation night vision goggles require completing flight crew training and acquiring certification, as implemented by the FAA. Work with an FAA-approved training school to complete the training requirements.
In addition to the training, the regulation also outlines the requirements for an operator to be an NVG instructor.
Aviation NVG’s Benefit Many Users
The rules and regulations surrounding the use of aviation night vision goggles ensure the safety of flight operators. By following these essential guidelines, you’re optimizing the performance of the goggles and guaranteeing the safety of the users.