AirEvac Lifeteam, the largest independently owned and operated air medical service in the United States, operates 92 bases in 14 states.
"The company embraced this risk mitigation tool as another way to keep our employees and patients safe," AirEvac Lifeteam President and CEO Seth Myers said.
"The two-and-a-half year implementation process required a great deal of time in training, aircraft modification and equipment purchases -- a more than $7 million investment in safety."
AirEvac Lifeteam received approval in 2007 from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use ANVIS-9 goggles, manufactured by ITT Technologies, as part of its operations. Training began with the company's eastern Kentucky bases along the Cumberland Mountain range that fall. Three years later, the company's entire fleet of Bell 206 LongRanger Helicopters have been modified for NVG's and all of its flight crew members have completed FAA-approved NVG training.
Safety is what prompted the company wide commitment to the goggles, Chief Pilot Tim Fulton said.
With AirEvac Lifeteam crews spending approximately 30-40 percent of their flight time on evening flights, the company wanted an additional safety tool when spotting terrain, obstructions or looking for a suitable landing zone. The ANVIS-9 goggles were that tool, Fulton said, with the state-of-the-art goggles raising vision to 20/20 from the normal nighttime vision of 20/200.
Despite the enhancement, Fulton said NVG's are not replacement for pilot caution, skill and training. Rather, the goggles provide what he calls an "edge" for the pilots.
"They are certainly not a cure all, but they are a tremendous help with difficulties such as mountainous terrain and reduced visibility," he said.
"They are also very useful in avoiding wire or power line strikes, and even seeing ducks or geese near the aircraft."
For information about AirEvac Lifeteam or its services, call 1-800-893-0010 or log on to www.lifeteam.net.