Falling cost of equipment prompts USA to draw up training and operational regulations for flying in darkness

The US Federal Aviation Administration is proposing training, operational and currency rules for pilots wishing to use night-vision goggles (NVG) in general aviation aircraft.

The provisions, part of a comprehensive update of pilot and instructor training, qualification, certification and operating rules published on 7 February, follow more than six years of work by an FAA/industry group.

Although NVGs can legally be used by general aviation pilots today, as nothing in the rules specifically prohibits their use, pilots have largely avoided the technology, possibly due to the perceived high cost of the goggles. The FAA decided to take action because prices have fallen dramatically - a set of binocular NVGs can be purchased on the web for less than $500.

Widely used in the military, NVGs have more recently spilled over into the emergency medical systems and law enforcement sectors, where the FAA has leverage through each company's operations specifications.

Those specifications require operators to use NVGs that meet certain performance standards, to install approved cockpit lighting (incandescent lights interfere with NVG imaging) and to implement training programmes.

Source: Flight International