On average about three crews every day will face one of pilots’ greatest fears: smoke in the cockpit. Quite often, smoke is easily controlled, by switching off electrical consumers and pulling circuit breakers, for example. But uncontrolled smoke in a cockpit can quickly obscure vital flight instruments, effectively incapacitating the flight crew at a most critical time.
Here in Dubai the problem is particularly sensitive. On September 3, 2010, UPS Flight 6, a Boeing 747-400, crashed near Dubai International Airport after the pilots had reported smoke in the cockpit. Cockpit smoke has been a major contributing factor to many other incidents.
For the penalty of just five to six pounds in weight and a space the size of a Jeppesen manual, VisionSafe’s (Stand 579) Emergency Vision Assurance System (EVASI) can help pilots see in a smoke-filled cockpit. EVAS comprises an inflatable vision unit (IVU) that inflates in 45 to 60 seconds to form a clear, smoke-free channel to the windscreen and central instruments/screens. A pump draws in air and filters it of particles down to 0.1 micron size, and then pumps the filtered air into the IVU volume. The pump maintains a slight overpressure to prevent infiltration of smoke from the rest of the cockpit space.
EVAS is easily installed and is totally self-contained, with its own battery power that provides up to four hours of operation. It needs to be tested once every 90 days, and serviced every two years.
VisionSafe has tailored the system to fit virtually all of the airliners and business aircraft of Western origin currently flying, and holds supplemental type certificates for them. Unsurprisingly, UPS was the first global carrier to fit EVAS across its fleet, and many other operators have installed the kit. Bombardier, Dassault and Gulfstream have made EVAS a standard option for their business aircraft.