FAA Certification 101
In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, most of the early civilian operations were approving their NVG lighting modifications under the field approval process. The FAA had no published guidance or regulations concerning NVG equipment or operations so the modifications were approved as “Alternate Lighting Systems.” Even some of the early STC certifications for NVG lighting modifications were referred to as “Alternate Lighting Systems.” The aviation industry and the FAA were both trying to promote safety and increased mission capabilities through standards in these early NVG lighting applications but were limited by the lack of industry wide standards and regulations. What could be approved in one part of the country, for example, might not be acceptable in another.
The early civilian users of NVG in aircraft were law enforcement and para-military organizations. These groups could use the “Public Use” category when actually performing NVG operations. As the use of NVG began to extend to air medical and other areas, the FAA recognized the need for industry wide regulations and standards for safe NVG operations and supporting airborne equipment. These regulations were published in the early 2000’s but were not uniformly implemented until the middle to late 2000’s. During this transition period, the use of NVG expanded greatly. Emergency medical aircraft were being forced into NVG operations by industry imposed contract requirements and many law enforcement agencies were prohibited from using the “Public Use” operations by insurance requirements or state laws. These organizations had steadily been converting to FAA certified NVG operations.
On April 9, 2011 the FAA issued N8900.152 entitled “Special Emphasis Inspection of Night Vision Imaging System Lighting Installations.” The document is used as guidance by FAA personnel in the inspection of NVG compatible aircraft. Elements of the new standard that have potentially significant implications on how NVG certification is accomplished are:
Every civil aircraft modified by Aero Dynamix is fully certified and STC’d by the FAA, thus meeting or exceeding all regulatory guidance standards.