Commercial, Products, Safety

FAA Makes Another Move Toward Enhanced Vision System Rules for Rotorcraft

By S.L. Fuller | July 12, 2017

Genesys Aerosystems IDU680 provides situational awareness. Photo courtesy of Astronics Corp.

Genesys Aerosystems IDU680 provides situational awareness. Photo courtesy of Astronics Corp.

Astronics Corp. subsidiary Astronics Max-Viz is teaming up with the FAA to research the use of enhanced vision systems in helicopters with its Max-Viz 1500 and Max-Viz 2300 onboard the FAA Technical Center’s Sikorsky S-76.

While enhanced vision system rules exist for approaches to runways at airports, comparable regulations do not exist for helicopters flying to onshore or offshore helipads at heliports, the company said.

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The study aims to develop a basis for possible application of these systems. Astronics said its Max-Viz 1500 sensor would be used for baseline testing, followed by the installation on the S-76 of the Max-Viz 2300 for observation of LED lighting with its blended, high-resolution, long-wave infrared image. Flight tests are planned in a variety of weather conditions.

The FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center at the Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey is host to the enhanced vision tests. Astronics said the FAA will use study results to assess effectiveness of enhanced vision systems for flight safety and operations in helicopters.

In April, Elbit Systems partnered with the Technical Center for similar research with its Heli-ClearVision system, assessing “the unique aspects of helicopter flight and the visual cues generated,” which it said require additional considerations beyond the typical head-up displays used today.

Air ambulance operator Rega has developed a low-level flight network for its helicopters in Switzerland with the support of Leonardo Helicopters, which earlier this year signed a long-term agreement with Elbit to jointly market and equip its line of commercial helicopters with Heli-ClearVision. Rega has evaluated Elbit’s systems. Such technological potential will be the subject of discussions at R&WI’s Rotorcraft Business and Technology Summit Sept. 20 to 21 this year in Fort Worth, Texas.

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