Avionics News October 2019 - 62

industry

YOU CAN
SEE THE LIGHT

EVEN IN THE DARK OR THE CLAG
S T O R Y

F

B Y

or centuries, humans feared what they could not
see. They also feared the dark of night and the
pitch-black environment of caves. Our ancient
ancestors' discovery of fire helped save them from much of
the angst over darkness.
But fire left unresolved many of our needs to see in the
dark. Fire did, however, pave the way for hot meals, which
some contend helped our quest for vision.
But in recent years - the last two decades in particular -
technology helped bring into the light many of our nightvision shortcomings, enhancing our ability to see in the
dark, through smoke, clouds and fog. And in circumstances
previously believed untenable.
Welcome to the age of artificial vision enhancement,
unrelated to vision correction. Vision correction improves
the quality of our existing sight; enhancement gives us
vision once obstructed or otherwise reduced by conditions.
Today, as opposed to the early years of aviation, tools
and technologies allow pilots to fly under most inclement
weather conditions - all but the worst: thunderstorms
and accompanying lightning, the most threatening of the
weather conditions we face.
We're a long way from those early aviation years when,
62

avionics news

*

october

2019

D A V E

H I G D O N

for the most part, flying occurred only during daylight hours.
In those days, the most-advanced airline services landed at
dusk to put their passengers on an overnight train to a pickup point for the airliner's next daylight leg.
Today, aircraft fly the sky around the clock, thanks to the
invention of gyroscopic instruments, airport beacons, aircraft
landing lights, navigation lights (appropriated from the
maritime community), and sundry navigation aids.
But we still covet night vision, something science helps
humans develop and interpret. Whether obscured by dark
of night, fog, clouds, smoke or smog, various visual aids
seeing the lights in the night remain a consistently coveted
capability.
Just as science and technology helped aviation overcome
weather and the dark of night, so, too, is science helping
pilots use artificial eyes to see where visible light fails to
penetrate.
Best of all, the various technologies come in a multitude
of forms suitable for use in everything from single-engine
trainers to multiengine military and commercial aircraft.
While the forms may vary, the outcome remains the same:
giving aviators vision where visible light can't reliably
penetrate. And there's a system for almost every aircraft.



Avionics News October 2019

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