Wednesday, April 17, 2024

US Air Force uses VR headsets for airmen training

Virtual reality (VR) maintenance training has officially arrived and is poised to revolutionize the way airmen are trained on the intricacies of maintaining the MC-130J Commando II aircraft.

“Right now, it’s mostly avionics and crew chief tasks,” stated Technical Sgt. Anthony Gambone, 193rd Special Operation Wing VR program leader. “Some of the other shops have come in to do aircraft familiarization with some of their newer airmen before they go off to the flightline.”

This state-of-the-art technology promises to deliver multiple benefits, including cost savings, time efficiency, and heightened safety, according to Col. Jaime Ramirez, commander of the 193rd Special Operations Maintenance Group.

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“VR enables our world-class maintainers to continue to push the innovation football forward. They gain a better understanding of maintenance tasks and operations equipping them with more confidence and capability to perform maintenance on a live aircraft.”

Without VR maintenance training, airmen would have to wait for one of their aircraft to be in maintenance status to train. When this happens, the aircraft must be ready for use as soon as possible, limiting the time available to train. Having a VR aircraft makes it so there’s always an “aircraft” available to train on.

“Lacking familiarity with specific maintenance tasks extends the time required for aircraft repairs, resulting in the aircraft grounded for longer,” Gambone said.

VR training allows tasks to be conducted during non-maintenance periods, eliminating concerns about prolonging aircraft downtime. This approach ensures that airmen gain exposure to various tasks without having to rely on the availability of an aircraft.

“The big takeaway from this is safety, with a more controlled and structured training environment, resulting in saving money and time,” Gambone emphasized. “The cost savings from fuel, parts, and man-hours will make it pay for itself.”

The implementation of VR technology may lead to substantial cost savings for the Air National Guard through reduced maintenance times and improved safety conditions. This, in turn, enhances the readiness of airmen, fosters proficiency in aircraft maintenance, and facilitates faster aircraft availability.

“The VR program has room for expansion, with the flexibility to incorporate new maintenance tasks as they become available,” Gambone explained.

The 193rd Special Operations Maintenance Group aims to extend VR maintenance support beyond the MC-130J to other military aircraft, potentially benefiting flying units across the Department of Defense.

“With this program, we could get different aircraft from C-17 to F-15,” Gambone stated. “If I wanted to and I had access, I could do an engine change on an F-15.”

Since its launch, the VR program has become fully operational, capable of training seven airmen simultaneously. Ramirez aims to have the entire 193rd Special Operations Maintenance Group utilizing the system in the near future.

“We’ve always had the right airmen to push aircraft maintenance into the future,” Ramirez remarked. “Now we have the technology to do it right here in Middletown.”

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Executive Editor

About author:

Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov is the editor-in-chief of Defence Blog. He is a journalist, an accredited defense advisor, and a consultant. His background as a defense advisor and consultant adds a unique perspective to his journalistic endeavors, ensuring that his reporting is well-informed and authoritative. read more

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