With the opportunities of virtual and augmented reality for aviation training attracting many professionals around the world, companies find themselves considering not only the benefits but also the possible challenges of these technologies. According to Konradas Dulka, product manager at Sensus Aero, a next-generation software solution for the aviation industry, virtual reality (VR) applications can be both simple and inconvenient.
“The challenges of VR applications come in many different forms – some technical, while others lie in the human factor,” he shares. “So while these technologies are valuable and allow us to improve training processes and engage trainees at the same time, we need to remain vigilant in the face of these challenges.”
The product manager explains that one of the main challenges is optimization. “At Sensus Aero, we have experimented with a number of different VR engines, all of which have distinct advantages. However, whichever engine you choose, you need to spend a lot of time on optimizations. realistic graphics, great sound effects, a good walkthrough, your product won’t automatically be awesome,” says Dulka. “In my mind, global optimizations actually define the product, allowing it to be used longer , even by those who have never tried something like this before.”
While in VR training an actual procedure is simulated, not everything needs to be trained. “We only focus on procedural steps to make training faster and more focused. This means that every step of creating a VR simulation needs to be considered very carefully – what do we want to be part of the simulation and what is not so important,” shares Dulka. “Our research has shown that during the simulation, if there are parts of the training when in the VR simulation you are moving about doing nothing, for example on a bus as a passenger, half of the people have the head spinning. Therefore, here we are giving the option to the instructor to turn off the game and move on to the next step. In other words, VR customization must be present, because no one is the same.
Another major challenge is integration. If a person has never tried VR before, it takes on average about 10 minutes to get into it. “We generally recommend starting training with easier procedures, just to get used to the controls and the feel itself. Unlike ERP systems or mobile apps, virtual reality gives you the feeling of immersion – the user starts to believe they are inside the simulation and here we can help them develop the right habits. If the integration has been done correctly, the Sensus Aero VR training mode can easily guide users through the steps, even if the procedure is quite complicated. And that’s all! After onboarding, users can be self-sufficient and run the training on their own, which means less load on the trainer’s schedule,” he says.
The more difficult the procedure, the higher the risk of errors and the return on investment of virtual reality suddenly skyrockets. “One of the most difficult procedures we had to adapt to virtual reality was refueling on the plane. The complexity of a large number of steps and the replication of refueling panels, trucks and sequences were really a challenge. You can’t reproduce “more or less” and expect users to believe it – it has to be reproduced exactly graphically, ensuring that the control interaction is as realistic as possible. you have to settle everything according to the company itself, because the company can use different trucks where the controls differ, the fleet of customer planes can be made up of many different types of planes, etc.,” explains “Our recommendation is to focus on the most common mistakes and start from there. Also, unlike real-life training, with Sens’ Air Refueling VR us Aero, we can simulate the overpressure or the risk of fire, which is simply not possible in real practice. It’s always good to know that your staff are prepared for all situations, not just the “positive” streak. We believe that with the integration of VR training, we can improve aviation safety and minimize the risk of the human factor. “
While some markets are quick to adopt new technologies, others are slower. However, everyone understands that currently the industry is at breaking point with a significant shift in adapting next-gen technology just around the corner. And with the positive return on investment of virtual reality and the significant improvements in aviation safety it enables, it’s safe to say that aviation training will soon look very different.