Whether in the event of an accident or a serious illness, Rega’s help is needed around the clock. Last year, Rega helicopter crews provided medical assistance by air on more than 10,000 occasions, 2,500 times at night. Flights at night are particularly demanding for the entire crew, but especially for the helicopter pilots. Obstacles such as power cables and trees, as well as changes in the weather, are more difficult to perceive in the dark. Night vision goggles amplify any residual light and during visual flights help pilots to get their bearings at night. In addition to comprehensive basic and on-going further training, they play a key role in ensuring the safety of crews and patients at all times, including during the night.
Greater contrast and a larger field of view
Since this week, new night vision goggles that have been specially developed for Rega are being carried on board all of Rega’s helicopters. These devices combine the best components of various types of night vision goggles and are tailored to Rega’s individual needs. The highly sensitive image intensifier tubes in the new devices generate an image in shades of black & white – as opposed to the previous NVGs, which presented a green image. With the new NVGs, contrasts, shapes and shadows are much more distinct; the colours reduce strain on the eye and help prevent visual fatigue. Furthermore, the field of view is around 25 percent larger than before. The pilots’ environmental and situational awareness is thus increased, which enables them to recognise danger earlier and react accordingly.
Operating with groundbreaking devices
In the field of aviation, everything that is carried on board an aircraft must meet the strictest requirements and pass inspection by an independent body. Rega’s in-house Design and Development Centre drew up the certification programme to enable the new night vision goggles to be finally approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) following extensive tests both in the laboratory and on test flights. The cost of these night vision goggles including development amounts to approximately CHF 25,000. Rega has invested a total of around CHF 1.2 million in the new devices and thus in the safety of its crews and patients. With these new night vision goggles, Rega is continuing to write its decades-long success story: already back in 1987, Rega was the first civilian air rescue organisation in the world to equip all its helicopter crews with these light-enhancing devices.
PDF: Factsheet Night Vision Goggles
Rega Annual Report 2020
You can read about how Rega fulfilled its core task in the past year and what steps it is taking to further improve air rescue services in Switzerland in our Annual Report, published today. Besides information about the new night vision goggles, you can also find, among other things, articles on the following topics:
- An electronic patient report form makes life easier for Rega’s emergency flight physicians
- By making the right decision at the right time, Rega’s helicopter flight coordinators ensure that people in distress receive help as quickly as possible.