Universal Avionics (UA) is continuing its research collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in order to develop new regulations to support the use of Enhanced Flight Vision Systems/Enhanced Helicopter Visions Systems (EFVS/EHVS) for rotorcraft.
The FAA is evaluating the use of Heli-ClearVision – either as a SkyLens Head-Wearable Display (HWD) or SkyVis Helmet-Mounted Display (HMD) – as a representative EHVS to improve helicopter safety and provide better visibility during operations.
Testing hardware was integrated into the FAA’s Sikorsky S-76 helicopter at the FAA William J Hughes Technical Center at Atlantic City International Airport. Training and familiarisation flights were then conducted with FAA test pilots and the commencement of FAA’s planned data collection flight test then followed.
The next phase of testing, which includes additional day, night and twilight flights with the SkyLens HWD and SkyVision HMD, is planned for early 2019. Amongst other experimental trials, they will be trialling the SkyVis Night Vision Goggle (NVG) HMD later this year.
Tal Golan, Universal Avionics Rotorcraft Business Development Manager, highlights that he has been flying with an HMD for most of his career: "I know first-hand that a system such as Heli-ClearVision will not only be an overall safety multiplier, but will also greatly assist any helicopter flying at night, IMC, and any other challenging conditions to safely complete their mission. Even more so, to those who fly special missions such as SAR, EMS, law enforcement and firefighting. The programme we have with the FAA shows our dedication in shaping safer, better, and more efficient helicopter operations."
The research and development of the Helicopter Safety Enhancement (H.SE number 91) contributes towards the US Helicopter Safety Team’s commitment to reducing the helicopter fatal accident rate; FAA Research Program Manager for Helicopter Safety Cliff Johnson adds: "The research directly supports the FAA's ongoing aviation safety initiatives to develop criteria for helicopter operations in low visibility environments."
The flight test programme will help quantify the unique sensor and display characteristics, visual cues, and operational concepts needed to assist the FAA with policy and rulemaking efforts to allow for the use of EHVS technologies on helicopters operating to and from helipads, heliports and landing zones.