Might a civil helicopter be next in line to benefit from an infrared-sensor-based enhanced vision system (EVS)? Max-Viz, of Portland, Ore.–formed two years ago to develop and market EVS for business jets–reports fast-growing interest in the concept among helicopter operators and OEMs attending last month’s Heli-Expo convention in Dallas.
“Six months ago we were primarily focused on the business jet market,” said Gregg Fawkes, Max-Viz president. He said video taken directly from the company’s EVS-1000 infrared sensor last summer sparked a surge in attention from the rotary-wing community at a time when inquiries from business jet manufacturers were on the rise.
“Two or three” helicopter operators in the Pacific Northwest have expressed a desire to participate in STC installation programs. Fawkes said he and his staff have spoken to several helicopter OEMs, including Bell, regarding making the Max-Viz EVS a factory option, a topic that was expected to be on the agenda when executives from the companies got together during Heli-Expo.
In January, Max-Viz sales manager Chuck Aaron conducted a series of day and night low-level development flights in a Bell AH-1 Cobra north of Los Angeles, using a three-sensor array feeding video to a Cinerama-style triple-segmented screen mounted on the glareshield. The five-inch-high screen, which folds flat when not in use, has a total field of view of 159 by 40 degrees laterally and 40 degrees vertically.
A single sensor supplies a 50- by 40-degree field of view to any current video-capable cock-pit display. A single-sensor EVS-1000 system will cost an operator $80,000 to $100,000, depending upon the complexity of the installation, Fawkes said. He predicted that prices would come down as sensor technology continues to evolve and become more affordable. Max-Viz uses an uncooled IR sensor in the long wavelength portion of the infrared spectrum.