Westpac pilots get night-vision

THE Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter has long been the “eyes in the sky”, and now they're seeing even better.

As part of a $300,000 project, its helicopters have been fitted with high-tech night-vision goggles to be worn by pilots and crew on search and rescue operations and other missions after dark.

Chief pilot Lynton Beggs said the goggles, known as NVGs, magnify the smallest light sources, such as a mobile phone, a cigarette lighter or a small battery-operated torch, from up to 5km away.

“This means the crews' ability to pinpoint lost bush walkers, for instance, has been greatly enhanced,” Mr Beggs said.

“The goggles will improve the chances of rescue for people who are injured or lost at night and in need of urgent medical attention. It also means the helicopter will be available to help in more police search and rescue activities after dark.”

The four NVG units cost a total of $60,000, but costs of modifying helicopter cockpit lighting, compatible crew helmets and the provision of NVG training for the crews, has taken the overall cost to $300,000.

“The use of NVGs is the single most important risk-reduction strategy the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service can implement,” Mr Beggs said.



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