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Posted: 6/4/2008 9:40:04 PM EST
War causing shortage of night-vision goggles

By Ryan J. Foley - The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Jun 4, 2008 17:25:19 EDT

MADISON, Wis. — The war in Iraq is creating a major — and perhaps deadly — shortage of night-vision goggles for civilian pilots who fly medical helicopters in the U.S.

The National Transportation Safety Board has encouraged the use of such equipment since 2006 to reduce the risk of deadly nighttime crashes during emergency medical flights. But air ambulance services that fly sick or injured people to the hospital have been put on waiting lists of a year or more by makers of night-vision gear because the U.S. military has contracts that give it priority.

“The war in Iraq escalated, and the goggles weren’t available,” said Gary Sizemore, president of the National EMS Pilots Association and a pilot in Perry, Fla. “We were put on a waiting list.”

Sizemore estimated about 25 percent of the 800 or so emergency medical helicopters in the U.S. have the technology. He said he would like such gear on his own helicopter so he could better navigate the dark pine forest he routinely flies over in northern Florida.

Night-vision goggles take the tiny amount of light from the stars or the moon and amplify hundreds of times, enabling the pilot to see in the dark and avoid flying into mountains, wires or other obstructions. The NTSB said the technology could have prevented 13 of 55 crashes of medical helicopters it analyzed in the 2006 report.

Since that study, five U.S. medical helicopters have crashed in the dark, killing 16 people, according to an NTSB database. An NTSB spokesman said it was not clear from the preliminary reports how many of the helicopters lacked night-vision gear. The accidents are still under investigation, and it is not known whether such equipment would have made a difference.

The shortage came into focus last month after one of those crashes — an accident in which a helicopter used by the University of Wisconsin Hospital’s Med Flight program slammed into a bluff, killing a doctor, nurse and pilot. The chopper had no night-vision gear.

Air Methods Corp., a Denver company that leased the aircraft and is the biggest U.S. operator of emergency medical helicopters, said its plans to install night-vision goggles in its fleet of 348 had been slowed by the shortage. About 40 percent of its choppers have them, and the rest should be upgraded by the end of 2011, said vice president Mike Allen.

Law-enforcement agencies such as sheriff’s departments that use helicopters for search-and-rescue missions are also facing delays.

“There’s a lot of frustration out there,” said Mike Atwood, owner of Aviation Specialties Unlimited Inc. in Boise, Idaho. The company is the exclusive distributor for ITT Technologies, the nation’s largest manufacturer of the latest generation of night-ision goggles.

Some companies have been so discouraged by the wait that they have delayed placing orders, which only puts them further back in line, Atwood said. He said the wait time has dropped more recently to six-to-eight months.

“We understand the demand, but as a defense contractor our first priority is to the U.S. military needs,” said ITT spokeswoman Allison Moore. “We want to make sure our war fighters are safe, but we do try to meet the needs of the medical flight industry through our distributor.”

She said ITT has boosted its production capacity to try to meet demand for domestic users. Moore said the company had received orders for more than 250,000 goggles from the military since 2005. She refused to release overall sales figures.

The other major manufacturer, Northrop Grumman, is selling its night-vision goggles unit to L-3 Communications Corp. Both Northrop and L-3 had no comment.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Brian Maka said night-vision technology is widely used by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it is up to the industry to meet demand.
Link Posted: 6/4/2008 9:41:25 PM EST
Are they talking about NVG or NV equipment specially made for helicopters?

If it is just NVG's I'm going to call BS, they are for sale everywhere...
Link Posted: 6/5/2008 12:44:55 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/5/2008 12:46:18 AM EST by stickfigure]
It's an AP news story, one more reason to bash the war.

"The war in Iraq is creating a major — and perhaps deadly — shortage of night-vision goggles for civilian pilots who fly medical helicopters in the U.S."

It' GW's fault now that there aren't enough NVG's for EMS pilots.
Link Posted: 6/5/2008 12:49:42 AM EST

Originally Posted By DallasLooterShooter:
Are they talking about NVG or NV equipment specially made for helicopters?

If it is just NVG's I'm going to call BS, they are for sale everywhere...


I'm with you.

Link Posted: 6/5/2008 12:50:23 AM EST
Someone needs to direct these morons to Victor. He can hook them up with an assload of night vision gear.

What a crock of shit. This is simply another of those "the Iraq War is hurting us at home" hit pieces.
Link Posted: 6/5/2008 12:53:31 AM EST

Originally Posted By 0699TeufelHnd:

Originally Posted By DallasLooterShooter:
Are they talking about NVG or NV equipment specially made for helicopters?

If it is just NVG's I'm going to call BS, they are for sale everywhere...


I'm with you.



+1

Link Posted: 6/5/2008 1:08:11 AM EST
Why would you want NVG's in a civilian helicopter?

They could also get terrain warning radar.

The problem with NVG flight, is you have to train for it, and do it regularly to be good at it.

How useful are NVG's of populated areas, with lots of artificial light sources?
Link Posted: 6/5/2008 1:14:03 AM EST
Everyone here realizes that you dont just fly a helo with PVS-7's right?

How many ANVIS 6's or 9's do you see on the EE? Dual tube NVG's used to just be used for flying, now they are used by lots of ground guys also.

The article is factual, its a very good piece of Psyop as the best Psyop is based on facts, just spun the way you want it spun

And yes Mike Dillon flys his helo with PVS-7's, but he's Mike Dillon
Link Posted: 6/5/2008 1:15:44 AM EST

Originally Posted By OLY-M4gery:
Why would you want NVG's in a civilian helicopter?

They could also get terrain warning radar.

The problem with NVG flight, is you have to train for it, and do it regularly to be good at it.

How useful are NVG's of populated areas, with lots of artificial light sources?



Most civilian medical helicopter pilots are former miltary, so they are trained to fly with NV. In fact I have never met a medivac pilot that was not in the military. Helicopters tend to land in open spaces that are usually not very well lit. Aviation Night vision is of a higher quality than standard PVS-7s or 14s. I have no idea about whether or not there is a stateside shortage, but having worked with medivac pilots in the past I respect them for what they do.
Link Posted: 6/5/2008 1:28:59 AM EST

Originally Posted By Stumps:

Originally Posted By OLY-M4gery:
Why would you want NVG's in a civilian helicopter?

They could also get terrain warning radar.

The problem with NVG flight, is you have to train for it, and do it regularly to be good at it.

How useful are NVG's of populated areas, with lots of artificial light sources?



Most civilian medical helicopter pilots are former miltary, so they are trained to fly with NV. In fact I have never met a medivac pilot that was not in the military. Helicopters tend to land in open spaces that are usually not very well lit. Aviation Night vision is of a higher quality than standard PVS-7s or 14s. I have no idea about whether or not there is a stateside shortage, but having worked with medivac pilots in the past I respect them for what they do.


My question wasn't about respecting medevac helisopter crews.

My department calls UW-Madison when there is a need for helicopter transport

The doctor that was killed was the local EMS medical director, and ERT/TRT team doctor.

The nurse that was killed was one of the secondary instructors when I went through EMT-B.

My question was, how useful googles are when flying over areas that have artificial light sources, from city to village, to rural.

The helicopter that crashed didn't have NVG's or terrain warning radar.

I would think that terrain avoidance radar might be easier to use given the flight conditions a civilain medical helicopter operates under.
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