1 May 2007 Preliminary assessment of night vision goggles in airborne forest fire suppression
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Abstract
Helicopters are widely used in daytime forest fire suppression, conducting diverse tasks such as spotting, re-supply, medical evacuation and airborne delivery. However, they are not used at night for forest fire suppression operations. There would be many challenges when operating in the vicinity of forest fires at night, including scene obscuration from smoke and dynamic changes in lighting conditions. There is little data on the use of Night Vision Goggles (NVGs) for airborne forest fire suppression. The National Research Council of Canada (NRC), in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR), performed a preliminary flight test to examine the use of NVGs while operating near forest fires. The study also simulated limited aspects of night time water bucketing. The preliminary observations from this study suggest that NVGs have potential to improve the safety and efficiency of airborne forest fire suppression, including forest fire perimeter mapping and take-off and landing in the vicinity of open fires. NVG operations at some distance from the fire pose minimal risk to flight, and provide an enhanced capability to identify areas of combustion at greater distances and accuracy. Closer to the fire, NVG flight becomes more risk intensive as a consequence of a reduction in visibility attributable to the adverse effects on NVG performance of the excess radiation and smoke emitted by the fire. The preliminary results of this study suggest that water bucketing at night is a difficult operation with elevated risk. Further research is necessary to clarify the operational limitations and implementation of these devices in forest fire suppression.
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Sion Jennings, Greg Craig, Rob Erdos, Don Filiter, Bob Crowell, Todd Macuda, "Preliminary assessment of night vision goggles in airborne forest fire suppression", Proc. SPIE 6557, Head- and Helmet-Mounted Displays XII: Design and Applications, 65570Z (1 May 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.718710; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.718710
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