The aviation industry is high pressure and can push pilots and engineers to their very limits.
By 2029, there are expected to be as many as 426,000 active pilots in the aviation industry flying aircraft across the globe, and it’s important that they are trained correctly to ensure safety onboard.
Traditionally, airline pilots have been trained through in-person lectures, physical simulation exercises, and practical experience. But, with the emergence of advanced technologies like virtual reality (VR), a new era of aviation has begun.
With many academies already adopting elements of VR in their training approaches, the future of new technologies in this industry is incredibly exciting. To find out more about how aviation training and VR are closely intertwined, keep on reading.
How are airline pilots trained?
Airline pilots normally spend between 16 and 18 months in training before they can become certified. Depending on the company that the pilot is training for, they may have to train for an even longer period of time before they’re allowed in the cockpit.
Training is normally conducted through a variety of lectures, simulation exercises, group tasks, in-flight tests, and shadowing experienced pilots – many of which can be enhanced using virtual reality.
The cost of training can cost anywhere between £70,000 and £130,000. But, if you are being trained by a company, they may cover some of the training costs you incur.
How is aviation training enhanced by VR?
As we have already seen in many other industries, virtual reality has begun to capture the imagination of aviation professionals where it’s being put to use to benefit both pilots and passengers. Here are some of the ways that airline training has been enhanced through the use of VR:
1. Creating More Engaging Learning Environments
The whole premise of virtual reality technology is to take users and immerse them into a new, totally realistic environment. In aviation training, a virtual reality headset can replicate the experience of being in an aircraft, no matter where the pilot-in-training actually is.
Learning through practice is a lot more engaging than having to sit through a long lecture trying to take in new information. Virtual reality provides a highly realistic environment that will feel similar to being in a real cockpit, even when the student is physically located in a classroom.
During virtual training, pilots can interact with cockpit controls, and get a real feel for what it’s like in an aircraft, even if it’s their first day of training. This helps to build confidence early on and develop the skills required in a safe, controlled environment.
2. Collecting useful training data
When pilots are learning through online platforms, educators have the chance to collect and analyse a large amount of useful data.
During any one session, the training system can capture a wealth of detailed information on everything from the pilot’s movements and reaction times to speed of responses. This data can help instructors to better analyse performance, compare capability against others in the class and assist in developing tailored training plans to meet individual needs.
This data will ultimately improve aviation training outcomes, making it more effective and suitable for the needs of incoming trainee pilots.
3. Pilots Are Free to Make Mistakes – And Learn From Them
When you’re flying a plane, you have little margin for error. One wrong turn, or the press of the incorrect button, and you could be putting your life – and your passenger’s lives – in grave danger.
In virtual reality training, pilots can make mistakes without any real-life consequences. They are also able to practice emergency procedures and learn how to handle challenging conditions that are very rare in the real world. All of these experiences will help the pilot to become more confident and feel better prepared for flying with passengers.
4. Saves Time and Money
It takes a lot of time and money to become a pilot, something that not all students can afford. Virtual reality offers a time- and cost-effective solution that reduces the need for expensive physical simulators and the cost of chartering aircraft for training purposes.
Virtual reality training is also accessible and inclusive, allowing pilots from all over the world to log training hours, without having to travel to specific locations. Trainee pilots can also repeat training scenarios, and log as many hours as they want without having to incur additional fees – plus the more time they have flying in realistic scenarios, the quicker they will feel confident to fly a real aircraft.