Erickson S-64F certified for NVG operations
May 18, 2023 By Helicopters Staff
An Erickson Incorporated S-64F Air Crane helicopter was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration for night vision goggle operation on April 6, 2023. Erickson explains this approval is a key component of its integrated night vision goggle (NVG) program, which aims to offer customers increased flexibility and expanded operational capabilities. This added proficiency presents the opportunity for increased tactical planning, continues Erickson, and agility in aerial firefighting and a variety of civil protection operations.
Erickson partnered with Aviation Specialties Unlimited (ASU) to modify an S-64F to perform NVG operations. Concurrently, Erickson pilots received NVG training and certification through ASU. Aircraft modifications and pilot certifications were completed in March, with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aircraft certification in April.
A critical element of Erickson’s NVG program, explains the company, is ensuring that the NVG flight crew maintain currency in accordance with current FAA regulations, though it is the policy of the Erickson training department that pilots exceed the FAA’s minimum requirements to maintain a high level of proficiency. Erickson conducted NVG training in accordance with this policy at its annual spring training event in Oregon.
As part of the currency flights, prior to conducting operational training, flight crews completed Helicopter Night Vision Goggle Operations (HNVGOs), in accordance with the FAA regulations. Upon completion of those activities, Erickson explains the flight crews initiated their Night Fire Fighting training. During the training, they performed a variety of drops using multiple coverage level options. A variety of filling techniques performed in the S-64 included ground fill, Pond Snorkel hover release into an open water source, hover fill, as well as tank fill operations.
This was a multi-agency event, with the FAA and U.S. Forest Service on-site, observing the training. In addition, the Crook County Fire Department was also on-site, providing ground fill for the S-64 tank and simultaneously conducting required helicopter coordination training and signoffs.
“Safety is the first and foremost aspect of the NVG training program,” said Erickson’s Director of Operations, Ray Touzeau. “Erickson’s goal is always to be the master of our craft, with safe and effective operations being the marker of success.” Touzeau also explained that risk mitigation strategies such as employing extensive training and following detailed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), regulatory protocols, and procedures will be paramount in achieving NVG safety and performance objectives.
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