Informative Guide About Night Vision Goggles for Heli Pilots
In this blog post, we’ll dig deep into how pilots can fly at night, what they use, and what they need to do. Before we get into the technical details about Night Vision Goggles for heli pilots, let’s dig into the basics first.
What is a Helicopter Pilot?
Helicopter pilots are known for transporting people or shipments from one location to another. They can work in various industries, such as law enforcement, tourism, agriculture, or media. A heli pilot operates and drives helicopters and similar aircraft types.
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What Does a Helicopter Pilot Do?
A helicopter pilot flies planes, conducts pre-flight inspections, completes flight logs and other documentation, and manages aircraft maintenance activities. As a heli pilot, your main priority must be to emphasize safety in the air and ensure the aircraft is maintained correctly for a safe flight. You are ultimately responsible for deciding whether flying is unsafe due to weather conditions or other factors.
How Do Helicopter Pilots See At Night?
Helicopter pilots see at night by using Night Vision Goggles or NVGs.
Night vision goggles for heli pilots are designed explicitly for night flights at the lowest light levels. Their use does not require any modernization of the helicopter’s cockpit. Also, the NVGs comply with different types of helmets.
Air traffic controllers and radar become the pilots’ eyes when flying during nighttime operations. During low-altitude flights, the pilots rely on city lights, night vision goggles, and landing lights to see outside their cockpits. Cockpit instruments are used for all other flights at all times.
How Do Night Vision Goggles for Heli Pilots Help?
These night vision goggles for heli pilots use infrared technology to allow the pilot to see in the dark. They are attached to the helmet, providing a clear view of the cockpit instruments and the outside world.
Helicopter pilots typically cannot see anything better than anyone else at night. Pilots relying heavily on instrumentation and onboard computers typically carry out night flights. An aircraft’s pilot must fly in darkness without the assistance of their instruments, so they rely heavily on city lights, runway lights, and night vision goggles. Pilots need help seeing at night as well as you or I have. However, it is primarily up to them to use the instruments they have on hand when it comes to flight.
Under Visual Flight Rules, a pilot must use the horizon or the earth as a visual reference to all aspects of their flight. However, in the dark, pilots will face a challenging time seeing. When pilots exit controlled airspace, the air traffic control tower cannot assist them.
So when flying at night, helicopter pilots use NVGs to see outside the aircraft. With the help of the NVG, it amplifies available light, including moonlight and starlight, and projects it onto a phosphor screen inside the goggles, which the pilot then views. The goggles provide a green-tinged, monochromatic image that can be easier for the pilot’s eyes to process than the typical black-and-white night sky.
NVG has allowed helicopter pilots to fly at night in conditions that would otherwise be too dark to see. However, there are still some limitations to NVG that pilots must be aware of. For example, NVG can cause eye and neck fatigue that may limit the pilot’s peripheral vision. In addition, despite the increase in safety at night, pilots may encounter a lack of color discrimination.
4 Benefits of Night Vision Goggles for Heli Pilots
As night vision goggles for heli pilots work like video camera, it provides excellent benefits to helicopter pilots at night. Below are the five benefits:
- Provides Vision at Night
- NVGs provide night sight to helicopter pilots. They allow them to see objects the naked eye commonly wouldn’t notice above air during nighttime. It helps pilots see better in situations with inconsistent lighting levels.
- Enhances Flight Ability
- NVGs do not precisely turn night into day. However, this technological advancement improves the capability of the team to see and fly at night.
- Provides Safety in Night Operations
- As it helps the user see and fly better in the dark, it lessens the chance of crashes in terrain or artificial obstructions.
- Aids with Stealth Operations
- With the help of its image intensification technology, it provides a better view in situations with poor lighting. This way, it allows recognition of objects and people that would generally be unrecognizable to the unaided human eye. NVGs help law enforcement operations like nighttime surveillance, suspect tracking, search and rescue, medical assistance, and undercover operations from being detected.
How Do NVGs Help the Military at Night?
Night vision devices (NVDs) can overcome the human sensory system’s limitations in low-visibility situations. As we deeply examine night vision physiology fundamentals, you will learn about the fundamental principles of technology and how it has evolved into a powerful military tool. The infrared searchlight in NVDs represents active reflection systems, which became useless when enemy forces were equipped with the same technology.
How NVDs Progressed with the Help of Technology
During the development of NVDs in 1964, the first generation of NVDs that met wartime requirements was manufactured in Vietnam. It was when night vision tools, such as hand-held night telescopes and weapon-mounted telescopic sights, were the norm. In the 1970s, the US Air Force introduced the first binocular helmet-mounted displays. Most NVDs today are built around the advancement of thermal imaging cameras.
FLIR (Forward-looking infrared) technology was used to test its limits in the context of the Iraq conflict for the first time. These NVD systems were also used during the Afghan war to aid the German Army Aviation forces in their Tiger helicopters. In ambient light intensifiers, invisible or weak light is converted into visible or enhanced light. Users of image intensifiers are not shown an actual image; instead, a display displays a reconstructed image. Several optical illusions are created as a result of this. Although the image quality of image intensifier goggles is comparable to that of a former tube monitor, they are highly vulnerable to distortion caused by various factors.
How Do NVGs Help Helicopter Pilots in the Law Enforcement Operations?
In law enforcement, there are many forms of how night vision goggles for heli pilots help in their duties. Below are the following:
Pursuit of Suspects
As technology has improved for military benefits, NVGs greatly help suspect tracking. During pursuits, most suspects are often unknowing that a helicopter is monitoring the scene. With the aid of NVGS, the aircraft can remain in stealth mode. This way, officers on board will better view the entire scenery. It gives law enforcement an edge in locating the suspect to inform the ground crew for appropriate action.
Further Tracking of Suspects via Vehicles, Boats, and Aircraft
Helicopter pilots use NVGs at night to track suspicious vehicles on land, at sea, or in the air. Depending on the operation, asset tracking follows from the pursuit. Crimes may vary from hostage-taking, abduction, drug trafficking, buy-bust operations, smuggling, and other criminal offenses.
With the help of NVGs, it enables the aircraft team to gather crucial video evidence or lead them to higher prized targets. Depending on the camera capabilities of the NVG model, the device allows the aircraft to be as far away from the subject without being noticed while still providing outstanding visuals.
Another advantage of NVGs is tracking those violating restricted airspace enforcement or preventing those flying into restricted airspace. The device helps in providing a better image to the aircrew at night.
Search and Rescue
NVGs help helicopter pilots or the search and rescue team locate missing persons via land or sea. These benefit people affected by natural disasters, stranded vessels, missing children or older folks with Alzheimer’s, and individuals lost in the mountains. This procedure helps hurry the search operations and rescue and saves more people in time.
During night operations, helicopter pilots assigned to air ambulances use NVGs. It improves their action time to swiftly locate patients, provide first aid, and transport patients. Depending on the medical emergency, in most cases, heli pilots find and airlift patients from severe car crashes or other incidents. It also helps airlift patients living in far-flung areas with time-critical medical needs such as cardiac arrest or stroke. This operation allows the medical team to transport the patient to the nearest hospital.