NBAA Convention News » 2014
by R. Randall Padfield
Aviation Specialties Unlimited (ASU) of Boise, Idaho (Booth 1478), is showing its white phosphor night-vision goggles (NVG) for aviation and an electro-optical gimbal (in advanced prototype form) here at NBAA 2014. “The new white phosphor night-vision goggle is the first technological breakthrough in aviation goggles since the Generation III goggle was introduced,” Jim Winkel, ASU president, explained.
“White phosphor NVG technology has been in production in the U.S. for several years for use by our military,” he said. At the Airborne Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) annual convention in Phoenix earlier this year, ASU, in partnership with L-3, introduced white phosphor NVG technology to the civil aviation community.
“It is important to note that ASU’s white phosphor technology greatly surpasses many key performance parameters that are important to crew members,” Winkel added. “This includes low-light performance, high-light performance and reliability.” ASU’s white phosphor NVG exceeds all minimum performance requirements, as outlined in the RTCA document DO-275 “Minimum Operational Performance Standards for Integrated Night Vision Imaging System Equipment.”
ASU reports that it is already receiving orders for its new L-3 M949 white phosphor aviation NVG and is offering the product at an introductory price. Deliveries are expected to begin this fall. “This premium product,” Winkel claimed, “delivers the highest performance available in the industry and extends reliability by 50 percent. It also costs more to manufacture and therefore is priced higher than our current production product.”
Justin Watlington, ASU director of pilot training and a retired Army National Guard pilot, said, “I have been flying with night-vision goggles for 27 years and would characterize the new white phosphor system as a distinguished milestone in NVG technology. From highly illuminated urban areas to the darkest mountain regions, the white phosphor NVGs significantly outperformed traditional green phosphor NVGs.”
Since its founding in 1995 by CEO Mike Atwood (a 10,000-plus-hour helicopter pilot with ATP, CFI and CFII certificates), ASU’s goal has been to implement night vision in the civil aviation market as a way to increase operational safety and improve mission capabilities.The company strives to provide turnkey solutions, so that with one call customers can obtain: night-vision goggles and replacement parts; servicing and inspection of NVGs; installation of NVG-compatible cockpit lighting at its facility in Boise or a customer’s facility; cockpit replacement parts; initial and re-current NVG training; and assistance in establishing night-vision programs.
Over the last year, ASU has hired 13 new employees and promoted 10 existing employees into leadership roles.During this same period, Artisan Builders, a Middleton, Idaho-based general contractor, broke ground and began construction of ASU’s new 40,000-sq-ft facility, which includes an aircraft hangar, advanced manufacturing areas and administrative offices.
“Our new facility is nearly complete,” Winkel said. “As with any construction project, we’ve encountered a few delays.” Although the facility was originally scheduled to be finished in September, Winkel expected it to be ready around the time of the NBAA Convention.
ASU reports having sold more than 5,500 NVG aviator systems in the U.S.The company is also L-3 Warrior Systems’s exclusive authorized aviation goggle distributor and its NVG technicians are factory trained and certified.
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