VOLUME 4 AIRCRAFT Equipment and Operational
CHAPTER 6 Airplane Authorizations and Limitations
Safety Assurance System: Night Vision Imaging Systems
4-6-6-1 GENERAL. The information outlined in the
following paragraphs will be used by principal operations inspectors (POI),
principal maintenance inspectors (PMI), and principal avionics inspectors (PAI)
when evaluating a Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part
135 operator’s request for use of Night Vision Goggles (NVG). This
guidance covers the evaluation of the operator’s formal application, revision
to the General Operations Manual (GOM), and the addition of an NVG training
program and minimum equipment list (MEL).
A. Night Vision Enhancement Devices (NVED). In 1990, the Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) determined that NVEDs are appliances. This includes
NVGs, which are used, or intended to be used, in the navigation, operation,
or control of an aircraft in flight. As appliances, NVEDs/NVGs require FAA certification
and specific approval according to specific procedures outlined in 14 CFR part
21. The use of NVGs in part 135 operations may only be authorized with specific FAA approval.
B. Night Vision Imaging Systems (NVIS). “NVG” is
the common term used for Night Vision Goggles, part of an NVIS of an aircraft.
These systems are used in NVG operations, and the limitations and provisions
for conducting Airplane Night Vision Goggle (ANVG) operations are described
in operation specification (OpSpec) A051. The complete description and performance
standards of the NVG and cockpit lighting modifications appropriate to civil
aviation are contained in the RTCA, Inc. document, RTCA/DO-275, Minimum Operational
Performance Standards for Integrated Night Vision Imaging System Equipment.
Currently, NVIS consists of the following:
and exterior aircraft lighting modifications,
windows (e.g., windshield and windows),
station design and components, and
NOTE: Refer to the current revision of the Operational
Suitability Report (OSR) for NVGs, Airplane Single-Engine Land (ASEL), Airplane
Single-Engine Sea (ASES), Airplane Multiengine Land (AMEL), Airplane Multiengine
Sea (AMES) and type-rated turbopropeller airplanes for additional information.
C. Airplane Use of NVGs. The civil use of NVGs will be approved
only for the purpose of enhancing operational safety. An FAA study, DOT/FAA/RD-94/21,
Night Vision Goggles in Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Helicopters (published
July 1994), summarized the need for NVGs by stating, “When properly used,
NVGs can increase safety, enhance situational awareness, and reduce the pilot workload and stress that are typically associated
with night operations.” The hours of darkness add to a pilot’s workload
by decreasing those visual cues commonly used during daylight operations. The
pilot has a decreased ability to see and avoid obstructions at night. Since
the 1970s, NVEDs, such as NVGs, have provided the military with some limited
ability to see at night and therefore enhance operations. Continual technological
improvements have advanced the capability and reliability of NVGs, and part
135 on-demand operators have requested use of NVGs in commercial operations
as a tool for night flight. NVGs are used as an aid to night flight during visual
meteorological conditions (VMC), and operators are not to use NVGs during instrument
meteorological conditions (IMC). This means that operators must comply with
visual flight rules (VFR) weather minimums during NVG usage. For air carrier
operations, these weather minimums are prescribed in the air carrier’s
OpSpecs. The use of NVGs will not change or modify any existing regulation.
D. NVIS Approval. RTCA, Inc. has developed and published the
Minimum Operational Performance Specification (MOPS) for NVGs in RTCA/DO-275.
The Technical Standard Order (TSO)-C164, Night Vision Goggles, for NVIS was
published on September 30, 2004. The approval for NVIS installation can only
be accomplished through the type certificate (TC), amended TC, or Supplemental
Type Certification (STC) process. The FAA must determine that an appliance can
perform its intended function after installation and that its operation does
not adversely affect the operation of the aircraft and its installed equipment.
NOTE: Field approvals are not authorized for NVIS/NVG
aircraft modifications. Refer to
Volume 4, Chapter 9, Section 1, the current edition of FAA Order
8300.16, Major Repair and Alteration Data Approval, and the Aircraft Maintenance
Division (AFS-300)-initiated Major Repair and Alteration Data Approval Job Aid,
for additional information.
E. Additional Documents. In addition to RTCA/DO-275, RTCA Special
Committee 196, Night Vision Goggle (NVG) Appliances and Equipment, RTCA, Inc.
completed two other documents: RTCA/DO-268, Concept of Operations, Night Vision
Imaging System for Civil Operators, and RTCA/DO-295, Civil Operators’
Training Guidelines for Integrated Night Vision Imaging System Equipment. These
documents may provide operators with additional insight into the implementation
4-6-6-5 OFFICE COORDINATION AND RESPONSIBILITIES.
Direct coordination with the Aircraft Certification Service (AIR) and the Flight
Standards Inspector Resource Program (FSIRP) is essential for timely completion
of the STC process. The operator must specify on the STC application to the
Aircraft Certification Office (ACO) whether approval is sought for a single
aircraft or a series of aircraft, and under what operating rule the aircraft
will be operated. Operations inspectors assigned to evaluate, test, and check
job functions using NVGs must meet the requirements of 14 CFR part
61.31(k)(3); be NVG-current in accordance with §
61.57(f) or (g); be qualified and current in accordance with the current
edition of FAA Order
4040.9, FAA Aircraft Management Program, and the Flight Operations Manual
(FOM); or have a letter of authorization (LOA) before conducting these certification
A. ACO Responsibilities. The ACO is responsible for:
1) Approving the STC for installation of NVG-compatible equipment
2) Flight testing for NVIS compatibility.
3) Approving the Airplane Flight Manual (AFM), including any
B. POI Responsibilities. The POI is responsible for:
1) Evaluating operator GOM procedures for the use of NVGs.
2) Authorizing operational approval of NVG operations through
the issuance of OpSpec A051.
3) Evaluating part
135 NVG training programs, including instructors and check pilots, if authorized
4) Authorizing operator NVG check pilots.
5) Monitoring training.
6) Ensuring competency flights are conducted.
C. NVG National Resource Specialist (NRS) Responsibilities. An
NVG NRS may assist the POI in the following areas:
1) Reviewing GOM procedures and training programs.
2) Monitoring training.
3) Conducting competency flights.
4) Advising POIs on recommended changes to the training program
NOTE: If the POI is not ANVG-qualified, it is recommended
that the POI consult with an ANVG NRS for assistance in reviewing any of the
required documents and/or the conduct of any required check flights. Contact
the Flight Standards (AFS) Flight Program Division (AFS-60) for the list of
current ANVG NRSs.
D. PMI/PAI Responsibilities. The PMI/PAI is responsible for:
1) Reviewing the operator’s aircraft maintenance or inspection
program for NVIS instructions for continued airworthiness (ICA) and NVG maintenance
documents and procedures.
2) Evaluating the operator’s training to verify maintenance
personnel are adequately trained on the maintenance of NVIS-modified aircraft
(e.g., the use of NVGs to inspect for incompatible light sources during maintenance/inspections
and the use of NVIS drawing packages to perform maintenance/inspections).
3) Evaluating the operator’s training to verify maintenance
personnel are adequately trained on the maintenance and inspection requirements
of NVGs. This is especially important if the operator is authorized to perform
their own NVG maintenance and inspection.
4) Evaluating the operator’s MEL authorization/procedures
for NVIS. Specific reference to the NVIS system is required for MEL relief (e.g.,
supplemental lighting systems do not apply to NVIS).
5) Verifying any subsequent aircraft modifications to the cockpit,
cabin, or aircraft exterior involving a light-emitting or light-reflecting device
were properly evaluated in accordance with the “Limitations and Conditions”
section of the NVIS STC or aircraft manufacturer data.
NOTE: Ensure the maintenance documents are applicable
to the aircraft and equipment being evaluated. NVIS modifications and cockpit
configurations are controlled by the aircraft serial number. Any changes to
the NVIS configuration will require changes to these documents and may require
a compatibility evaluation by an Aircraft Certification Authority (ACA).
4-6-6-7 CERTIFICATION PROCESS. The
standard five-phase certification process will be followed for NVG approval.
The phases are:
and Inspection, and
A. Preapplication Phase. During this phase, the operator documents
their intent to utilize NVGs in their part
135 operation, including the modification of aircraft to make them compatible
with NVGs. In addition, there are several important issues that the POI must
make the operator aware of as part of the approval process. These issues include:
1) OpSpec A051 authorizes approval for ANVG operations and outlines
additional NVG requirements, restrictions, and limitations.
2) Applicants should review the AFM NVG supplement to ensure
that the types of approved operations, crew requirements, and other operational
requirements and limitations are compatible with their intended ANVG operations.
3) Applicants should ensure that procedures exist so that the
models of NVGs approved for use with a particular NVIS installation in a specific
airplane are identified. The AFM for the NVIS installation will list the approved
NVGs. If the AFM does not include this information, the operator must obtain
that information from the STC design approval holder (DAH).
4) Applicants should review their pilot resources to ensure adequate
personnel are available to serve as instructors/check airmen or develop a plan
for contract training. Operators may select NVG flight instructors from prior
NVG-experienced pilots, preferably those with experience as flight instructors.
Pilots with prior NVG qualifications with another certificated operator, or
who have military NVG training, would typically be good candidates for authorized
company NVG flight instructors. See
Volume 3, Chapter 20, Section 1, for additional information on air transportation
NOTE: Accordingly, NVG training programs and the
associated qualification segments (pilot flight checks) must include maneuvers
and procedures as listed in
Volume 3, Chapter 19, Section 7, and in its Table 3-70, Part
135 Checking Modules—Airplanes. The performance standards required for basic
checks is at least that required for obtaining the certificate which must be
held to act as a pilot in command (PIC) and supplemented by guidance in this
chapter and Order 8900.1.
B. Formal Application and Document Compliance Phases. During
these phases, the operator submits appropriate company manuals and the POI reviews
them, including checklists, emergency procedures, and training programs.
1) GOM. The standard guidance for a GOM is outlined in Volume
3, Chapter 32. Additional manual guidance is contained in Volume 4, Chapter
5. A revision to an operator’s GOM will be required for NVG authorization.
NVG operational control issues and responsibilities must be listed in the GOM.
If there are no changes in these procedures and responsibilities between existing
unaided operations and proposed NVG operations, the applicant should indicate
that the procedures and responsibilities are the same. Where changes are appropriate,
the operator should annotate the basic procedures and responsibilities with
the ANVG differences.
2) NVG Revisions to the GOM. In addition to the requirements
in Volume 4, Chapter 5, specific procedures and responsibilities will include:
a) Pilot training requirements;
b) Check airman and company flight instructor requirements;
c) Crewmember training and currency requirements for use of NVGs;
d) Recordkeeping requirements (including regency of pilot experience);
e) Minimum safe altitudes for NVG operations;
f) NVG weather minimums;
g) Aircraft equipment requirements for NVG operations and MEL deferrals;
h) Use of aircraft external lighting;
i) NVG-authorized Area of Operations;
j) NVG maintenance and inspections;
k) NVIS/NVG preflight inspection procedures;
l) Reporting of NVIS irregularities and discrepancies;
m) Crew flight time and rest requirements;
n) Crew Resource Management (CRM);
o) Preflight planning (including aircraft performance requirements);
p) Detailed crew briefings;
q) Light discipline (internal and external);
r) Landing procedures to ensure compliance with part
s) Taxi procedures;
t) Abort/Go-Around criteria;
u) Inadvertent IMC procedures; and
v) Any additional information as needed by the operator.
NOTE: The above items are intended as a guide for
initial development of the NVG portion of a GOM and may be consolidated where
NOTE: Some light-emitting diode (LED) external lighting
may not be visible to all night vision devices even when visible to the unaided
eye; NVGs are unable to identify some LED obstacles and/or airport lighting.
Operators should address this concern in both procedures and training.
NOTE: Any MEL relief given for NVIS-related equipment
must be specifically authorized as NVIS-specific relief in the operator’s
MEL and based on Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL) Policy Letter (PL) 127,
Night Vision Imaging Systems (NVIS), or the MMEL for that airplane. NVIS-related
equipment includes all of the elements (including the NVG, windshield, lighting
system, lighting system filters, etc.) required to successfully and safely operate
an aircraft with the aid of NVGs. Any request for additional MMEL relief must
be made to the Aircraft Evaluation Group (AEG) responsible for the particular
MMEL. MEL guidance is contained in Volume 4, Chapter 4.
NOTE: The installation of search lights, landing
lights, and the aircraft’s internal lighting system will be evaluated
during the STC process.
NOTE: Aircraft must meet minimum equipment requirements
of 14 CFR part
C. Demonstration and Inspection Phase.
1) During this phase, the POI determines that an operator’s
proposed procedures and programs are effective. This is a total evaluation of
the operator’s system to include crewmembers and maintenance personnel.
Draft OpSpecs will be provided to the operator for use in its ground and flight
2) NVG operations are an evolving field of civil airplane operations.
Some certificated operators may not have the expertise to effectively conduct
an NVG ground curriculum without the use of a contract training provider. A
contract training provider with special qualifications in NVG operations may
contract with another operator to conduct the ground training in accordance
Volume 3, Chapter 20, Section 1.
3) Company flight instructors and check pilots must meet the
requirements of §§
Volume 3, Chapter 20, Section 6, paragraph 3-20-6-23, Approval of a Check
Pilot or For Multiple Operators. A contract training provider cannot conduct
any flight training unless they meet the requirements of § 135.324(a). This section of the regulations states, “Other than the
certificate holder, only another certificate holder certificated under this
part or a training center certificated under part
142 of this chapter is eligible under this subpart to conduct training,
testing, and checking under contract or other arrangement to those persons subject
to the requirements of this subpart.” Any contract training provider who
does not hold an operating certificate and OpSpecs for the same type of operation
for which training is provided, or does not hold a 14 CFR part
142 training center certificate with approved courses applicable to the
training provided, must be qualified as a pilot and flight instructor for operations
by the certificate holder. Policy pertaining to NVG contract flight instructors
and contract NVG check pilots is covered in
Volume 3, Chapter 54, Section 5. This section also applies to vendors (other
142 certificate holders) who provide outsourced contract training and checking.
Additional guidance pertaining to outsource training can be found on the Air
Carrier Training Systems and Voluntary Safety Programs Branch’s (AFS-280)
4) In addition, all flight instructors and check pilots must
have been qualified under part
135 in the make and model of aircraft in which instruction is being given
with a part
135 operator at some point in time.
5) The FAA should observe all ground and flight training curricula
to the extent possible with the operator’s initial training of crewmembers.
This procedure allows the responsible inspectors to evaluate and make recommendations
for improvements in training in a timely manner.
6) The final portion of this phase is completion of the qualification
segment. An FAA aviation safety inspector (ASI) or NRS will conduct or observe
the conduct of the initial cadre pilot qualification checks, including any check
pilot evaluations for the initial cadre of check pilots. The ASI or NRS must
be current in the general airplane tasks and the ANVG operations tasks, as required
4040.9, in order to accomplish qualification checks.
D. Certification Phase. In this phase, OpSpecs are issued to
the operator authorizing ANVG operations once the certificate holder has revised
the applicable sections of its GOM, maintenance manual, and training program,
and the aircraft has completed the NVG STC requirements. The POI and PMI approve
the operator to conduct ANVG operations with the issuance of OpSpec A051 and
OpSpec D094. The Safety Assurance System (SAS) surveillance plan should be completed
and the surveillance Data Collection Tools (DCT) established. A certification
report may be required. This action is necessary to ensure that AFS is able
to satisfy its oversight responsibilities in providing clear and effective national
policy guidance for both agency and consumer use concerning approval of ANVG
operations in part
E. OpSpec Currency Requirements. In order for a pilot to act
as a PIC using NVGs in operations under part
135, the pilot must have performed and documented the airplane tasks specified
in OpSpec A051 as the sole manipulator of the controls. These ANVG operations
must be performed in the same category and class of aircraft in which ANVG operations
will be performed. The tracking of NVG currency is the responsibility of the
operator and is a continuous review, similar to the pilot crew and duty requirements
1) The reliability of the NVIS and safety of flight operations
is dependent upon the operator adhering to the ICA. The NVIS ICA are accepted
by the FAA and will be referenced in OpSpec D094.
2) Guidelines for NVG check pilots and instructor approvals should
follow the same principles as aircraft check pilots. However, the NVG check
pilot and instructor must still meet the regulatory requirement to remain a
qualified crewmember in the same types of operations for which he or she holds
check pilot or instructor authority. Evaluations of check pilots conducting
NVG checks in multiple aircraft should be alternated between aircraft when possible
after an initial check in each make and model.
4-6-6-9 through 4-6-6-23 RESERVED.