Current Aeromedical Concerns in Operational Military Aircraft:
Night Vision Goggles
ASMA 1997

The purpose of the tutorial is to educate aeromedical personnel on issues concerning the operational employment of night vision goggles (NVGs). To ensure coverage of information that is of current concern, the tutorial has been divided into four areas: NVG technology, compatible cockpit lighting, training and mishap investigation. Speakers with acknowledged expertise in these areas will present information and answer questions. A brief description of each presentation follows:

1. NVG Design and Function. J.J. Martin. The presentation will include a description of NVG components, how the intensification process works, and characteristics of the NVG image. Also included will be an explanation of the various types of NVG filters and their operational applications and limitations. In summary, various factors affecting the NVG image will be discussed (e.g., illumination levels, weather and transparency transmissive characteristics).

2. NVG-Compatible Cockpit Lighting. W.E. Berkley. In order for NVGs to perform effectively from within a cockpit, it is vital that cockpit lighting be designed to function within specified wavelengths. This raises important issues regarding the use of filters and supplemental lighting, and the design of displays. The presentation will cover these issues, and will also address the use of colors and the types of NVG filters required for use in various cockpit lighting configurations.

3. NVG Ground Training. R.P. Mason. NVG ground training has improved over the years and continues to improve due to technological advances in lecture formats and methods. In the mid-1980s, the United States Marine Corps developed the standard for NVG ground training with the fielding of the first Night Imaging and Threat Evaluation Laboratory (NITE Lab). Currently, all USN, USMC and USAF units responsible for initial NVG training are using the NITE Lab concept and are also using standardized courseware. The presentation will include an overview of the NITE Lab concept, a brief description of the courseware content, suggested areas for improving ground-based training, and potential advances for future training.

4. NVG-Related Mishap Investigation Elements. J.C. Antonio. With the rapid increase in NVG operations, there has been an attendant increase in NVG-related mishaps. The result has been an increased potential for mishap boards to be composed of personnel not expert with NVG operations. Additionally, the guidelines for investigating mishaps do not yet thoroughly cover NVG concerns. A thorough investigation is vital in order not to lose NVG lessons learned and to avoid inadvertent misinformation relative to NVG operations. The presentation will address these concerns and will offer techniques to use when investigating NVG-related mishaps.

Abstracts

Panel: Current Aeromedical Concerns in Operational Military Aircraft: Night Vision Goggles (Sponsored by the International Association of Military Flight Surgeon Pilots)

J.C. Antonio*, W.E. Berkley*, R. P. Mason*, J. J. Martin. Armstrong Laboratory, Mesa, AZ 85206

Until recently, the use of night vision goggles (NVGs) has been limited to relatively few aircraft types. However, there has been a recent increase in the use of NVGs and some contingency plans call for all aircraft to eventually be ìNVG capable.î To adequately support airborne NVG operations it is imperative that aeromedical personnel understand the environment in which NVGs are used, and the hardware, physiological and human factor limitations within that environment. In-depth knowledge is also required to produce thorough and meaningful aeromedical inputs during NVG-related mishap investigations. The rapid push to increase NVG operations may, however, overrun the lead time necessary for the education of aeromedical support personnel. Additionally, there have been many articles and news stories concerning NVGs that have resulted in many support personnel being ìmisinformed.î To help offset these potential problems, the panel tutorial will address the following: (1) NVG design, function and potential technological upgrades, (2) the adverse effects of incompatible cockpit lighting and approaches used to minimize or nullify those effects, (3) training methods and curriculum content, and (4) NVG-related mishap investigation elements.


Night Vision Goggle Design and Function

J. J. Martin. Hughes Training, Inc./Armstrong Laboratory, Mesa, AZ 85206.

Night vision goggles (NVGs) have been used in military aircraft for over twenty-five years and, over that period of time, there has been a steady improvement in their performance. The purpose of the tutorial is to discuss the various components of Generation III NVGs, how they interact with each other, the resulting effects on the intensified image and technological advances that may result in an improved image. The following NVG design considerations will be discussed: direct view versus indirect view systems, the optical train, image intensifier tube design and processing, power supply requirements, and protective circuits. The following characteristics of the NVG image, which are results of the design constraints, will be discussed: field of view, color, resolution, signal to noise ratio, ìtailing,î and ìblooming.î In addition to the design factors affecting the NVG image, there are many operational conditions that have an effect on NVG function and thus image quality. The following will be briefly reviewed: illumination levels, point light sources within the field of view, cockpit lighting, transparency transmissivity, weather, and airborne obscurants. In summary, potential means of reducing or eliminating some of the adverse design and environmental effects will be covered.


Night Vision Goggle-Compatible Cockpit Lighting

W.E. Berkley*. Armstrong Laboratory/ Aircrew Training Research Division (AL/HRA), Mesa, AZ 85206.

Once the decision to use night vision goggles (NVGs) has been made, the most important next step is to determine how to modify the cockpit lighting. Cockpit lighting that has been improperly modified will not only result in degraded NVG performance, but may also result in an NVG-equipped enemy being able to locate the aircraft more easily. This tutorial will address the following important considerations regarding NVG-compatible cockpit lighting: the type of filter within the NVG planned for use, the effects of color and heat from light sources, methods for illuminating instruments, compatible filters for lights and displays, HUD compatibility, supplemental lighting, canopy reflections and daylight readability concerns. Additionally, the modification of external lighting will also be briefly discussed.


Night Vision Goggle Ground Training

R.P. Mason*. 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, MCAS El Toro, CA 92709.

Night vision goggle (NVG) ground training has improved over the years and continues to improve due to technological advances in lecture formats and methods. In the mid-1980s, the United States Marine Corps developed the standard for NVG ground training with the fielding of the first Night Imaging and Threat Evaluation Laboratory (NITE Lab). Currently, all USN, USMC and USAF units responsible for initial NVG training are using the NITE Lab concept and are also using standardized courseware. This tutorial will include an overview of the NITE Lab concept, a description of the courseware content, suggested areas for improving ground-based training, and potential advances for future training.


NVG-Related Mishap Investigation Elements

J.C. Antonio*. Hughes Training, Inc./Armstrong Laboratory, Mesa, AZ 85206.

Night vision goggles (NVGs) have been in use in some military aircraft for over twenty-five years. However, NVG utilization has increased over the past few years to include practically all military aircraft and missions. A consequence of this increased use has been a concomitant increase in NVG-related mishaps. The purpose of this tutorial is to present information to aid someone tasked to be a member of an NVG-related mishap board; specifically, elements of a mishap investigation specific to NVG utilization will be discussed. The following considerations will be included: NVG hardware, environmental conditions, cultural influences, cockpit environment, training, and potential illusions or misperceptions. The following additional considerations associated with night operations but not specific to NVG use will be briefly introduced: fatigue, flight planning and flight briefing.

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