Pilot training can only do so much for an in-flight fire
Is there a pilot alive who doesn’t live in fear of the dreaded inflight fire? Besides not being able to breathe, smoke reduces the visibility inside the plane to zero. For those of us who have been fortunate enough to receive pilot training using a smoke generator, we know first hand that the danger is real and 100% life threatening.
I don’t know about you, but when given the option to “simulate” donning the oxygen mask and smoke goggles, I am usually the first to accept the instructor’s generous offer. If you’re one of the unlucky few to encounter a real life emergency that requires the use of smoke goggles, you’ll wish you had practiced the donning procedure over and over and over again. Yes, there are smoke removal procedures on your checklist, but your eyes will be burning and stinging and you won’t be able to see the words on the paper or electronically. What’s a pilot to do?
There is a solution, at least for pilots flying the Embraer Praetor, thanks to a combined effort of Embraer and the Vision Safe Corporation. Their answer for smoke induced visibility issues is the “Emergency Vision Assurance System” (EVAS). It is now approved with an STC for the Embraer Praetor 500 and 600.
The system provides a clear space of air that allows the pilot to see the flight instruments and outside the front windshield in the event of cockpit smoke. I have no doubt that lives will be saved because of this technology. It is available on all Embraer business aircraft as an aftermarket upgrade and can be installed with an STC on the Embraer Legacy 450, 500, 600 and 650, as well as the Lineage 1000. The system is also available as loose equipment for the Phenom 100 and 300.
Nothing gets me sweating in pilot training as much as smoke in the cockpit. If your training is at least partially realistic, you know what I mean. Trying to breathe with the mask and goggles on, getting your glasses all fogged up, trying to find the anti-fog lever when you can’t see all adds up to a potential disaster. We should all be grateful to Embraer and Vision Safe for their life saving technology. Hopefully EVAS will be available on all business aircraft in the future, even as a retrofit. We’ll all be safer because of it.