April 16, 2010

OSF Life Flight Helicopters Equipped with Night Vision Goggles

Medical transport helicopters outfitted with latest safety equipment

OSF Aviation has added additional equipment to its helicopter fleet to increase the safety of flights performed by the OSF Life Flight Helicopter program in Peoria and the OSF Lifeline Helicopter program in Rockford.

The helicopters now have the following equipment:

  • NVG (Night Vision Goggles): The NVG's allow the pilots to see at night as if it were daylight.  About 35% of all flight programs in the United States utilize night vision goggles. 35% of OSF flight program flights are done at night. 
  • EGPWS (Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System): Predicts and displays potential conflicts between aircraft and terrain or obstacle
  • TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System): Alerts the pilot to other transponder-equipped aircraft flying in the area
  • XM Satellite Weather: Allows constant, updated, high resolution weather information in the cockpit
  • MFD (Multi-Functional Display): Allows the pilot to see all of the above data on one screen

While none currently exist, the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) has made recommendations to the FAA to mandate the above technology. “All the steps we are voluntarily taking now to enhance our safety will most likely be mandated in the future. We are being proactive for our patients and flight crews as part of our ongoing safety management system,” said Theresa Finerty, OSF Aviation Executive Director.  “Very few medical transport programs have this safety equipment. The OSF flight programs will be just the third in Illinois to utilize the EGPWS and TCAS and the second to utilize night vision goggles.”

Other important statistics:

  • Central Illinois’ Life Flight operations have been accident free for 25 years.
  • Life Flight and Lifeline are the only Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) programs in Illinois. This means the helicopters are equipped to fly in lower weather minimums than other flight programs.  There are still conservative weather minimums in place, but IFR aircraft have more leeway than VFR aircraft (visual flight rules). This commitment to safe IFR operations requires additional monthly training for pilots.
  • Together, OSF’s Life Flight and Lifeline is the busiest helicopter program in IL

Shelli Dankoff / Media Relations Specialist
(309) 655-3897