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ETS: Night vision components and conversions
for the entire aircraft

Executive Technical Services (ETS) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Executive Instruments. ETS provides custom night vision compatible lighting components and conversions for the entire aircraft. We have our own on-site NVG laboratory for qualitative lighting measurements.

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Our expertise tested in the Gulf War

During the first Gulf War, ETS was responsible for the night vision goggle compatible lighting conversions on some of the US Navy attack aircraft. Discussions later revealed pilots with the NVG lighting systems installed were able to more easily avoid upcoming SAM missiles. No converted aircraft were lost during the Gulf crises.

Since the Gulf War much attention has been focused on the ability of US forces to operate under cover of darkness using Night Vision Goggles (NVG). This capability has increased the effectiveness of US forces, as well as reducing battle casualties. This NVG capability has become known in the military world as "Owning the Night."

ETS follows through in the civilian sector

ETS employees were involved in the ARINC committee, which wrote the NVG requirements for civil aviation.

In the civilian world the reasons for NVG use are quite different. The ability to operate at night has always existed, but the actual ability to operate safely at night has been very limited. This is especially the case in mountainous and rough terrain.

It is important to note that the use of NVG in the civilian world is to supplement night Visual Flight Rules (VFR) operations by providing a wider margin of safety.

With military pilots transitioning to civilian jobs in Emergency Medical Helicopter operations and Airborne Law Enforcement, the lessons learned from the Gulf War and other military operations would inevitably be applied to everyday situations.

NVG is more than a component

The use of NVG is best characterized as operating a "system." The NVG system is only as effective as its weakest link. The links are: goggles, goggle compatible lighting, training and maintenance.

The NVG operate by amplifying the infrared (IR) component existent in the night sky, and are used to view the world outside of the cockpit. This amplification can be a factor of many thousands times ambient IR depending on the goggle type.

The problem: uncontrolled IR

The problem of using the NVG is virtually everything inside the cockpit can emit significant levels of infrared. The goggles are equipped with automatic gain control circuitry that reduces sensitivity to protect the photo-multiplier tubes in the event of high levels of IR.

Examples of high IR sources are cockpit indicators, instruments, and cabin lighting. However, when NVG sensitivity is reduced by cockpit related IR, the user effectively loses situational awareness outside the cockpit.

The solution: a system approach

To solve the problem, all sources of IR in the cockpit must be eliminated, or reduced to acceptable levels. These levels have been carefully examined and are listed in various documents in use by the US military, as well as the militaries of many other countries.

In addition, a cut-off filter is added to the objective lens of the NVG to restrict the IR wavelength sensitivity to above approximately 665 nanometers.

The cockpit lighting is controlled to wavelengths below 665 nanometers. The document covering US civilian requirements is RTCA DO-275 that specifies the goggle, aircraft modification requirements and flight training requirements.

Among these requirements is the satisfactory modification of the cockpit instruments. For example, the NVG lighted presentation of a properly modified horizon gyro will easily be seen by the unaided eye, and all but invisible to the NVG. The only apparent difference is that the lighting will be blue or blue/green in color.

Training and maintenance

Of course, training and maintenance are vital to successful use of any NVG system. Training and maintenance programs are specifically to the individual requirements of law enforcement, military and government and medical/rescue services.