Safety

Elbit Teams With FAA on Enhanced Vision Research

By James T. McKenna | April 3, 2017
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Elbit SkyVis

Rega has developed a low-level flight network for its air ambulances 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. Photo courtesy of Elbit Systems

Elbit Systems is partnering with the FAA to research operational concepts for enhanced flight vision systems in helicopters, the company says, with plans to install its Heli-ClearVision system in the agency’s Sikorsky S-76 at its Technical Center near Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The study is aimed at closing the gap between use of enhanced vision systems (EVSs) for approaches to runways at airports and operations to onshore or offshore helipads at heliports, the Israeli's defense, homeland security and commercial manufacturer said. It added that the study would assess “the unique aspects of helicopter flight and the visual cues generated,” which require additional considerations beyond the typical head-up displays used today.

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One industry leader working toward operational use of enhanced vision systems said such research is essential to reaching that goal. “Provided it can be proved that the enhanced synthetic vision is as safe as the human eye — with the sensitivity, specificity and reliability of the systems evaluated thoroughly against the human eye’s performance — such technology could then be used to enhance flight safety and efficiency," said Stefan Becker, head of corporate development for Rega Swiss Air Ambulance.

Rega has developed a low-level flight network for its air ambulances 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, and Becker discussed their potential civil operations last September during R&WI’s Rotorcraft Technology Summit in Fort Worth, Texas. Such technological potential will be the subject of discussions at our next event, the Rotorcraft Business and Technology Summit Sept. 20 to 21 this year in Fort Worth.

Under the latest agreements, Elbit said, the FAA S-76 will serve as the evaluation platform on several flights assessing the performance of Heli-ClearVision and subsystems such as the Skylens/SkyVis head-worn display and the HeliEVS, Synthetic Vision System and Combined Vision System. In additional to operational concepts, the assessments look at characterizing sensor criteria for maintaining visual references/cues during the visual segments of instrument approach procedures and enhancing visual flight rules operations.

Flights are to be conducted in different weather conditions; at day, night and twilight, and via different approach types, including lateral-navigation and localizer-performance-with-vertical-guidance.

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