Open ended question - Advantage of the FLIR over what? What mission are you thinking of?
I'll assume it's for an observation mission of some sort - and the answer is that it turns night into day for the person using the FLIR. Not so much of an advantage in daylight (although it is useful for finding hot things like bodies hiding in shrubbery), and not so very good at all in rain (at least the ones I've seen). Not very good for direct flying, unless you can control where the FLIR looks automatically with your head (like the Apache). In fact, for observation missions without being hooked up to the head tracker, it can be downright dangerous.
It also matters what you mean by FLIR. If you simply mean the infra red sensor, then Shawn's comments are a good response. However, when people say FLIR they very often mean the whole turret. This often incorporates other sensors, most notably a daylight zoom video camera too, but increasingly more sophisticated devices too.
If you expand a bit more what you are after, we may be able to help more.
ASV, There are three general types of FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red) sensors for helos. They all share the basic FLIR sensor, which shows heat, not light, and so is useful in black of night:
1) FLIR turret with heads down display. This is the most prevalent type, where the FLIR acts like a TV and displays on a tube in the cockpit. The crew points to FLIR, and can adjust focus, zoom, white-hot/black-hot, and contrast, as well as point the FLIR with some kind of slew switch. This FLIR is used for searching, especially for sea survivors, where the heat picture from the FLIR will display a warm floater or raft at great distances. In sophisticated installations, the FLIR can be pointed by the navigation system, using the grids of the survivor, or by the radar, where the FLIR can be directed to oint to the place where the radar found something. These are known as Geo point or radar point capabilities. A search flir is almost useless for flight cues, since it shows a picture that whirls and spins when the aircraft moves. It is very useful for searching in low light, of course.
2) Flir with head mounted display (HMD) - Here, the flir is tied to a helmet display (a small tv suspended over one or both eyes). On many HMD's the flir is reflected off a mirrored glass, so the pilot can see thru the image if the background is bright enough. Here a sensor on the pilot's head/helmet reads the angle of the helmet, and directs the flir to point to suit, so the pilot can direct the flir with simple looks. This is most natural, and effective as a flight cue for pilots to fly in zero light circumstances. It is however somewhat expensive. In really sexy systems, the flir is dual eye. Even more impressive are those that have computer cues displayed in addition to the flir, so the pilot can read his flight instruments, weapons cautions etc. Apache has a single eyed system like that (IHADDS) and Comanche has a dual eye system. A Comanche pilot can fly the entire mission without looking inside the cockpit, should he choose to.
3) fixed (un-turreted) flir - has no turret, and simply looks where the aircraft points. There is interest in this now, with cheap flirs becomming more common, but frankly, I think these are very poor third choices to the above. When the flir is bolted to the airframe, any motion of the aircraft is displayed to the pilot, so the picture is very unstable. This can be very disorienting especially if one tries to use the display to fly the aircraft.
Many tnx guys for the help.........well.. what i'm looking for is a study between different types of FLIR to choose the best one for the helicopter in general ...and i need that as quick as possible plsssssssssssssss......
Looking for ‘hot-spots’ in overhead cables is somewhat different to the mission where you might want to find a running man in a pursuit. There are a number of other potential scenarios - there is a World of difference between a hand held FLIR in the back streets of some southern US state and say the unit on any military EH101 .
In a low use wire survey role you might be happy with a fixed or hand held uncooled unit. Cost effectiveness will matter and as a result you may not need to buy from a large supplier. If you live ‘down the road’ from a factory of an ‘unknown’ manufacturer it might make more sense to go to them that to go to one of the big manufacturers over 1,000 miles way.
If you are thinking pursuit you need to consider where you intend to fly. If you are in the USA you can buy low-cost units that is fine being flown very visibly at 300-500 feet but pretty lame when operating at 1,000 feet. If you are in Europe you will naturally go for a higher spec unit that allows you to do the job covertly from more than 1,000 feet.
In the end its probably a compromise that the Buck will decide.
Location: The home of Dudley Dooright-Where the lead dog is the only one that gets a change of scenery.
Fleer, don't they make bubble gum?
I don’t know if this is still the case but on the original Apache FLIR it took 15 minutes or more to chill down the Pockle (possible misspelling) Cell to the point that you could use the FLIR. This meant that the pilot was blind on any night mission that required immediate takeoff.
This is the well known major drawback with QWIP technology.
It did cause a major hiccup in the UK as the police users were still cooling as they arrived on scene [they are mainly reactive]. Those that took issue with the problem stayed with the earlier technology others took the balanced view to put up with the problem and buy the bether option - QWIP.
In the case of the military it may be that war will probably last long enough for it not to matter!
The cooling process starts at engine wind-up anyway so we are not talking more than minutes. It may just be that they are important minutes. APU's can assist.
As others said before, you need to define the mission.
Not just what sort of things you're going to look at (people, power lines, scenery, etc), but what you want the FLIR to do once you've got the area of interest. Do you want to manually track the target, or should the FLIR have auto tracking? Would you like to slave the FLIR to some other onboard system (radar track, cursor position, point on the earths surface)?
Each manuafacturer builds in other useful things, such as a digital zoom, local area enahancement to give a clearer image on a certain area of the screen, automatically scan a certain area/sector, and others I am sure others can think of.
You also have to think of any other equipment required, Video recorders, downlinks to a ground station. Is it going to be replayed through a dedicated monitor or a multifunction display? Stand alone or integrated? Seperate controller, or an existing joystick/slew/cursor controller?
Even then there will probably be more than one manufacturer/ model that will meet your requirements. Then the best choice comes down to price, delivery time, any software/integration required.
Your original question is like asking "What's the best car?", oh, its a ferrari is it? OK then take your kids, dog and luggage and move this wardrobe for me.......
We are itching to hear what you want to do with your FLIR equiped helicopter, chase crooks, rescue sailors, shoot at baddies or look at wire. Or have you got a cunning plan that no one else has thought of and want to know if it will work.