Inaer France received on March 22 what it claims is the first approval in that country for a commercial helicopter operator to use night-vision goggles (NVG). France is relatively late adopting NVG operations, as most Avincis group operators already had such an approval, Frédéric Goig, CEO of the Le Cannet des Maures-based company, told AIN. Avincis is the name chosen late last year for the merged Inaer and Bond.
The NVG certification process took two years, Goig said, and NSE, a specialist in cockpit modification for night vision systems, was heavily involved. The AgustaWestland A109 is the first type in Inaer France’s fleet to be approved, and the company is in the process of qualifying its Eurocopter EC135s, Goig added.
One NVG-equipped A109 is operating in Nice, with another destined to be deployed to Nantes. Both are configured for single-pilot EMS operations. “An NVG-trained pilot is allowed to use any prepared landing site he has already used,” Goig explained.
Inaer France operates 12 helicopters: 10 A109s and two EC135T2s. “Our fleet is going to evolve,” Goig said, without mentioning specifically a number of aircraft. He is talking to Eurocopter, AgustaWestland and Bell about their light twins.
At the Aerial Firefighting convention last month in Aix-en-Provence, Inaer offered its services with both rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft. Thanks to its parent company, it displayed two Air Tractor amphibious airplanes and one Kamov Ka-32, on the ground and in flight. The services Inaer offers to French authorities include water bombing, surveillance, personnel transport and operation coordination.