Staring Night Vision Sensor Opens the Night for Helicopter Pilots

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BrightNite is a multi-spectral end to end panoramic piloting solution that delivers the essential data directly to both eyes of the pilot, enabling intuitive flight in a head-up, eyes-out orientation in pitch dark and other DVE conditions. Photo: Elbit Systems

Elbit Systems successfully demonstrated the BrightNite system in a series of night flights. Britenite is a solution that enables utility helicopters to perform Degraded Visual Environment (DVE) missions successfully in more than 90% of the nights. The demonstration flights carried out in Israel and involved dozens of pilots from different nationalities and services.

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The goal of this evaluation was to demonstrate the systems’ performance in DVE conditions, in moonless, pitch dark nights, in which flights are rarely executed. Installed onboard an Airbus Twin-Star helicopter for the demo, the BrightNite system provided the pilots with night-piloting capabilities similar and even exceeding to those of attack helicopters.

Comprised of non-gimbaled uncooled FLIR and highly sensitive Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) sensors the BrightNite DVE solution provides the pilot an intuitive image with the ultra-wide field of regard, projected through the pilot’s Helmet Mounted Display through the ANVIS/HUD.

BrightNite display in landing mode, showing the landing zone and clear descent path. Photo: Elbit Systems
BrightNite display in landing mode, showing the landing zone and clear descent path. Photo: Elbit Systems

Overlaid by a synthetic layer that follows the contours of the landscape, the display is combined with a third layer of mission conformal 3D symbology indicating various hazards, mission conformal symbology and tactical data.

Using a single Britenite sensor and the ‘synthetic world’, multiple crew members can simultaneously scan different areas through the entire field of regard, safely sharing the mission workload and responsibilities, regardless of the night visibility conditions.

In the sorties that took place during the demonstration flights, the feedback was extremely positive and the pilots emphasized the contribution of the system to flight. “The system is like magic, [it] literally opens any night to flight” one of the pilots commented.

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BrightNite is a multi-spectral end to end panoramic piloting solution that delivers the essential data directly to both eyes of the pilot, enabling intuitive flight in a head-up, eyes-out orientation in pitch dark and other DVE conditions. Photo: Elbit Systems