Prince Rupert based air ambulances are getting night vision. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Night vision for Rupert’s air ambulances

Night vision goggles will help reduce risks for air ambulance pilots on the North Coast

Between Prince Rupert and Vancouver, there are three helicopters suited for transporting patients under the B.C. Ambulance Service requirements. This month, a North Coast-based helicopter is the latest to be converted for compatibility with night vision goggles.

“It really enhances the safety of flying at night,” said Steven Morrow, one of the air ambulance pilots at the Helijet base in Prince Rupert.

The goggles, Morrow said, look like a small set of binoculars that attach to the pilot’s helmet. A pilot can see through them, but there’s enough room to look down at the cockpit.

“It’s a dark hole out there. ‘Night flight black hole’ is actually a term used for the dangers of flying at night. You leave Prince Rupert, it’s completely dark. You don’t see anything unless the moon is out and there’s no cloud — and that doesn’t happen too often around here.”

Before the installation of night vision technology, pilots had to fly at night by designated routes, and take cloud ceiling limitations into consideration.

“That means we’re 1,000 feet above any obstacle within three miles on either side of our track. Because it’s dark out there and you can’t see things, you’re assured you’re in a safe area if you’re on that track and you’re going to a destination.”

Morrow, who has more than 27 years of experience flying as an air ambulance pilot, said that once the helicopter returns to Prince Rupert, the pilots will undergo training with the new equipment. It may be four months before the newly-equipped helicopter is operational, Morrow said.

READ MORE: HEART OF OUR CITY – LOGGER TO PILOT, A WEST COAST DREAM

“Once we’ve reached that advanced level of experience, then we can actually bring that altitude down. Our weather requirements won’t be so stringent at night to be able to go flying,” he said.

The impact of the new equipment won’t be known until Helijet has used it for a while, but Morrow said it may allow them to go to new destinations during night routes.

In the meantime, Prince Rupert will use one of their older models, which features the same air ambulance kit. The night vision conversion comes six years after Vancouver and Prince Rupert upgraded their helicopters to the newer model of the Sikorsky 76C, which gave them more power, to stay up-to-date with their B.C. Air Ambulance Service contract.


 


keili.bartlett@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

City struggles to meet RCMP demands to improve facilities

Prince Rupert’s cells being retrofitted while process continues for new $30M RCMP building

LETTER: Haven from the sun

Viviers and Tupas family have been in Prince Rupert 20 years after leaving the sun in South Africa

LETTER: Take a moment to think of the first responders

Humboldt Broncos hockey team bus crash has affected many

Wind damage delays opening of Doug Kerr field

Sections of the field’s sod were torn up by high speed winds on April 10

Heart of Our City: Jeroen Gerritsen’s Scout’s honour

Jeroen Gerritsen joined Scouts Canada when his sons wanted to sign up

North Coast teachers learn the language of technology

School District 52 teachers learned about circuits, Microbits and JavaScripts on April 20

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Royal baby: It’s a boy for Kate and William

The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to her third child, a boy weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces.

Trump says North Korea agreed to denuclearize. It hasn’t.

Trump is claiming that North Korea has agreed to “denuclearization” before his potential meeting with Kim, but that’s not the case.

Suspect in deadly Waffle House shooting still being sought

Police say Travis Reinking is the suspect in a shooting at a Waffle House restaurant Sunday in Nashville that left four people dead.

G7 warned of Russian threats to western democracy

Ukraine foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin warns G7 of Russian war against Western democracy

Vancouver Island man killed in Peru

Friends of Woodroffe have posted messages of condolences on social media pages.

Dix says B.C. remains focused on fighting youth overdoses in wake of teen’s death

Elliot Eurchuk’s parents say he died at his Oak Bay home after taking street drugs

Final week for ALR input

Public consultation process closes April 30

Most Read