How Aviation Businesses Tackle The Challenges of VR Training Adaptation

With virtual and augmented reality opportunities for aviation training attracting many professionals around the world, businesses are finding themselves considering not only the benefits but also the potential challenges of these technologies. Virtual reality (VR) applications can be both easy and challenging, according to Konradas Dulka, product director at Sensus Aero, a next-generation software solution for the aerospace industry.

“The challenges of VR applications come in many different forms – some technical while others are human,” he says. “So, while these technologies are valuable and allow us to improve training processes while engaging trainees, we must remain vigilant in addressing these challenges.”

The product director explains that one of the main challenges is optimization. “At Sensus Aero, we’ve experimented with a number of different VR engines, all of which have distinct advantages. However, regardless of which engine you choose, you need to spend a lot of time on optimizations. If you base your strategy only on realistic graphics, great sound effects, a good step-by-step process, your product will not automatically be great,” explains Dulka. “In my opinion, global optimizations really define the product and allow people who have never tried it before to use it for a longer period of time.”

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While VR training simulates a real-life procedure, 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 we want to be part of the simulation and what is not so important,” says Dulka. “Our research has shown that if there are parts of the training during the simulation where you are moving around inside the VR simulation without doing anything, for example riding a bus as a passenger, half of people experience dizziness. Therefore, here we give the instructor the option to deactivate the component and move to the next stage. In other words, VR personalization has to be present because no one is the same.”

Another big challenge is onboarding. If someone hasn’t tried VR before, it takes them about 10 minutes on average to engage with it. “Mostly we recommend starting training with simpler procedures, just to get used to the controls and the feel itself. Unlike ERP systems or mobile applications, VR gives you a sense of immersion – the user starts to believe that he is inside the simulation, and here we can help him create the right habits. If the integration has been done correctly, the Sensus Aero VR training mode can easily guide the user through the steps – even if the procedure is quite complicated. And that’s all! After onboarding, users can be self-sufficient and do the training themselves, meaning less strain on the trainer’s schedule,” he says.

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The more difficult the procedure, the higher the chance of mistakes and the return on investment of VR suddenly skyrockets. “One of the most difficult procedures we had to adapt to VR was refueling the aircraft. The complexity of the large number of steps and replicating the fuel panels, trucks and sequences was a real challenge. You can’t replicate “more or less” and hope users believe it – it has to be graphically replicated exactly to make the control interaction as realistic as possible. In addition, you have to fine-tune everything according to the business itself, because the company may use different trucks with different controls, the client squadron may consist of many different types of aircraft, and so on,” he explains. “Our recommendation is to focus on the most common mistakes and start from there. In addition, unlike real-life training, with Sensus Aero refueling a VR plane, we can simulate the danger of overpressure or fire, which is simply not possible in real practice. It’s always good to know that your staff is prepared for all situations, not just the “positive” sequence. We believe that by integrating VR training we can increase aviation safety and minimize human factor risk. “

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While some markets are quick to adopt new technologies, others are on the slower side. However, everyone understands that the industry is currently at an inflection point with a significant shift in the adoption of next-generation technologies just around the corner. And with the positive ROI of VR and the significant improvements in aviation safety it enables, it’s safe to say that flight training will soon look very different.

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