Max-Viz, the Portland, Ore. designer and manufacturer of infrared enhanced-vision systems (EVS) for airborne applications, is at Heli-Expo 2009 with two new systems and information on emerging use of EVS to boost the safety of EMS operations. The FAA, NTSB and the EMS industry are evaluating EVS as a candidate technology for improving EMS night operation safety.
The original Max-Viz EVS-1000 system is being replaced by the EVS-1500, which includes a number of new features specifically designed to meet helicopter operational requirements. The new Max-Viz EVS-100 enhanced-vision system for piston helicopters, with a recommended end-user price of $15,000, is designed for operators who have indicated a strong interest in a lower cost EVS option to match their performance and price target requirements.
Max-Viz states that infrared EVS is a proven system that saves lives, noting that it has been credited with nighttime location and recovery of automobile accident victims who had been ejected from the vehicle and were being overlooked by ground ambulance crews. It offers night-vision capability and situational awareness in smog, smoke, dust-storms and other limited visibility situations. Infrared system performance typically exceeds that of night-vision goggles (NVGs) in smoke, rain, snow and blowing dust environments, with greater protection in “brownout” and “whiteout” conditions.
Max-Viz vice president of dealer programs Chuck Crompton noted that the military has long recognized the operational advantages of using NVGs and infrared imaging systems. The two technologies are complementary in that the NVGs detect and amplify visible light, even the faintest amount, while EVS detects and displays thermal energy not visible to the naked eye.
When used with NVGs, he added, NVG-compatible displays for EVS are now available and affordable. When used in lieu of NVGs, EVS does not require expensive cockpit modifications for night-vision lighting. Additionally, transition to EVS is relatively easy and, unlike with NVGs, EVS use does not require costly recurring training programs.
EVS use in helicopter operation is especially effective for viewing and profiling atmospheric conditions at a distance to avoid inadvertent entry into limited visibility situations. For overwater operations, the infrared system’s ability to image waves and horizon lines is especially useful to maintain and verify safe altitude.
The new Max-Viz EVS-1500 with operator-selectable zoom is available for delivery this year. It is the only EVS available today with dual field-of-view capability. This system, in addition to the Max-Viz EVS-1000’s standard 53-degree-wide field of view, includes additional magnification with a 30-degree field of view during approach to tight landing zones. The new 30-degree field of view will provide better pilot depth perception during helicopter landing and the capability for “clear zone” verification at longer distances from the landing zone. “Initial operator response to the EVS-1500 design has been exceptionally positive,” Crompton said.
The launch customer for Max-Viz’s newly completed and approved Sikorsky S-76 EVS-1500 supplemental type certificate (STC) is AeroMed Spectrum Health of Grand Rapids, Mich. Available through Max-Viz dealer and partner company One Sky Aviation, the STC covers all S-76 versions through the new C++.
One Sky Aviation is also in the process of completing a Max-Viz EVS-1500 STC for the Bell 222 operated by CareFlite out of Grand Prairie, Texas. Max-Viz last year began shipments and support of multiple new programs involving Agusta AW139 and A109 Power and Grand helicopters.
The EVS-1500 is form and fit interchangeable with the original Max-Viz EVS-1000 to provide an easy upgrade path for current EVS-1000 operators. The EVS-1500 system is certified to the full rotary-wing environmental requirements of DO-160E.
Similar in form and function to the EVS-1000/1500 series, the EVS-100 uses an uncooled 320 by 240 focal plane array sensor for generation of a long-wave (12 micron) infrared image. It occupies a small, hermetically sealed fairing, with a total system weight of less than 1.5 pounds. The standard RS-170 video output is compatible with a variety of commercially qualified video displays. Max-Viz calls this system an ideal match to piston helicopters from Robinson, Enstrom and Schweizer.
Both systems are being demonstrated at the Max-Viz booth (No. 3348).