The FAA has granted supplemental type certificate (STC) approval for the installation of night vision goggle (NVG) systems in an Erickson S-64F Air Crane. The company partnered with Aviation Specialties Unlimited on the installation and intends to use the equipped aircraft for night firefighting operations.
In preparation for those operations, Erickson conducted NVG coursework at its annual spring training event in Oregon. Ray Touzeau, Erickson's director of operations, said that risk-mitigation strategies such as employing extensive training and following detailed standard operating procedures, regulatory protocols, and procedures will be paramount in achieving NVG safety and performance objectives.
Before conducting operational night fire training, flight crews completed helicopter NVG operations in accordance with FAA regulations. During the fire training, crews performed a variety of drops using multiple coverage level options, as well as filling techniques including ground fill, pond snorkel hover release into an open water source, hover fill, and tank fill operations. The FAA and U.S. Forest Service were on-site observing the training, and Oregon's Crook County fire department provided ground fill and conducted required helicopter coordination training and signoffs.