Aero Dynamix (ADI) has been granted EASA Part 145 approval following the completion of the first EASA STC approval for a night-vision lighting system on an MD902 helicopter.
“The European Community has a lot of aircraft flying EMS missions much like the U.S., and the FAA has identified several items that it believes could greatly enhance EMS safety, including the use of NVGs (night-vision goggles). So EASA has adopted the same thought process,” Cassey Howlett, ADI’s commercial sales/project coordinator told AIN.
Two primary components make up an NVG system: the night-vision goggles (NVGs) themselves and the night-vision lighting environment surrounding the goggles. One of the problems associated with NVG flying is the significant degradation in the goggles’ performance that occurs when they are used in an aircraft with a non-compatible lighting environment.
“It is important to understand that the interior lighting of an aircraft, if not suitable for NVG operations, can cause the NVGs to fail to properly view the outside environment. An aircraft cockpit emits a great deal of light, and 80 to 90 percent of the light is in the infrared (IR) range. Since it is the level of IR light being absorbed by the NVGs that determines the amount of amplification the goggles will provide, any other IR light causes problems,” Howlett said. “And its worth noting that the IR light does not have to be in the direct view of the goggles; it can be anywhere in the vicinity of the goggles because light reflects off of all surfaces to some degree.”
Howlett said there are few, if any, night-vision lighting providers in the European community. “They are turning to U.S.-based companies for guidance and integration,” he said. “As a result we pursued the EASA to build on our existing FAA certification. While an FAA STC holder can get its STC validated by EASA without being an EASA approved-145, a lot of the documentation has to be repeated each time. By becoming an EASA approved Part 145 repair station, we are able to greatly reduce the amount of paperwork required for STC validation and therefore reduce the approval process time frame significantly.”
According to Howlett, if the installation is considered a minor revision to the STC, it will take four to six weeks from the time the equipment is removed to the time the aircraft is returned to service. The cost can vary depending upon aircraft model, the mission configuration and the type and amount of equipment installed. Howlett cited a recent Bell 407 that was done for about $47,000. If the scope of the project is deemed a major revision to the STC, then the time can vary from six to 10 weeks depending on availability of the FAA for flight testing and conformity.
“We can usually determine if a lighting modification will be a minor or major change to the STC by evaluating photos of the aircraft and cockpit and by reviewing the FMS equipment list,” Howlett said.