“The use of air simulation to recreate an emergency evacuation is one of our most widely used products because it is impossible to replicate this type of event in a traditional training center, plus you can’t fill a plane with 200 people and set it on fire in real life to train crew members, but you can do it using virtual reality,» explained Luca Chittaro, professor at the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Physics at the University of Udine, Italy, and co-founder of Avietra. This company offers mobile applications, virtual reality, and persuasive technology training.
Transcript: «We conducted and published research studies comparing our virtual reality solutions with traditional school materials and it showed that our solutions are better in terms of learning, engagement and retention of acquired competencies. For example, in our latest study, we compared learning in 3D scenarios with virtual reality goggles, or in apps on tablets and smartphones, and it was very interesting because we found that even using virtual reality on non-immersive devices, you can learn the procedures just as well as with virtual reality goggles. There are customers who prefer this because they can provide that application, for example, to 4,000 workers so they can train on their mobile devices.»
According to research by the University of Udine, virtual reality solutions show better results in learning, engagement, and retention of acquired skills compared to traditional school materials.
These results also apply to other areas of the airline industry. For example, aircraft maintenance technicians and painters also benefit from using simulators. Several companies worldwide, from Swiss Aviation Training to Airbus, have already developed solutions based on virtual reality, three-dimensional scenarios, and previous real-world experience, which can be used to implement training courses for engineers and mechanics in which they can learn a wide variety of maintenance tasks. These virtual solutions reduce costs, facilitate the training of future aviation professionals, and allow closer monitoring of each student’s learning through data collection.
In the United States, the company F3 Solutions, in collaboration with the US Army, has developed, for example, a simulator to train technicians in charge of painting airplanes, which consists of virtual reality goggles. Equipped with the spray systems used to paint the airplanes, the specialists can practice the technique they will need later when working in the hangars.
“It’s helping me shore up the skills I’ve learned over the years working here. I think this class will benefit the new painters who come here and help the more experienced ones shore up and improve their skills. I think this is a good class for our future,” said Derek Guantry, one of the aircraft painters who have taken this F3 Solutions course, in a video released by Robins Air Force Base, USA.
Image of the simulator used for aircraft painting. Photo: US Air Force / Joseph Mather.
“In the military field, there is a much wider development of these systems. It is being intensely promoted, and it is not only about practicing skills, which is what we mainly do in civilian drone simulators, but we go further and try to work within operational environments, creating tactical scenarios where we can make use of these by employing them alongside manned aircraft or working several unmanned systems in the same scenario,” said Jerónimo Vicente, UAS expert, and Skydweller pilot.
Transcript: «The subject of simulation in the field of unmanned systems is still in a development phase and I hope that in the near future we will be able to reach the levels that exist in the rest of the aeronautical field. Within the UAS field, the current use of simulation is based on being able to make use of these systems and train skills, which is basically the main operation, especially when we refer to what we usually know as drones. In relation to the use of these systems is the same in the civilian and military field from my point of view and from my knowledge, there is a much broader development of these systems in the military field, it is being promoted a lot, and it is not only about practicing skills, which is what we mainly do in civilian drone simulators, but we go further, and we try to work within operational environments creating tactical scenarios, which we can make use of them, joining them to manned aircraft or working several unmanned systems in the same scenario.»
This has allowed the drone industry to grow significantly, supporting livestock, mining, oil, construction, and more inspection processes.
However, there is a world in which simulation has also emerged strongly in recent years and in which both the most experienced professionals and young newcomers to the sector participate: amateur simulators, where there is something for everyone, from the very popular Microsoft Flight Simulator to specialized options, aimed at a very limited public, such as Glide Sim Pro, which allows training in an ultra-realistic glider flight simulator.