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January 5, 2022

US Air Force’s 176th Maintenance Group opens VR training lab

The 176th Maintenance Group used squadron innovation funds from ARCWERX for the new laboratory.

The US Air Force’s 176th Maintenance Group (MXG) has opened its new Virtual Reality (VR) Training Lab last month.

176th Wing Public Affairs member David Bedard reports that the lab gives the maintenance airmen a new way to acquaint themselves with maintenance processes without a physical airframe.

To create the new VR training laboratory, the 176th MXG used ‘squadron innovation funds’ from ARCWERX.

ARCWERX aims to create a long-lasting innovation in the Air National Guard (ANG), which builds on the geographic distribution and individual Guardsmen talent.

176th MXG maintenance training manager master sergeant Bryan LoPorto said: “This is intended for a trainer to be a safety rep and stand behind him but also to teach while he’s going through the steps.

“It enables them to provide training to supplement what they would learn on the aircraft in an environment that’s less stressful.”

Until now, there are 18 modules that can be accessed by the VR lab.

LoPorto said that the controls for the VR programme are easy to learn as it enables higher accessibility, thereby supporting a streamlined learning process.

Access is currently only available for C-130 modules. However, the long-term plan is to have modules on the other airframes.

176th MXG unit training manager technical sergeant Esdei Arurang said: “For someone like me that has zero maintenance experience, I can see how new troops can benefit from this training.

“It familiarises you with the steps in the [technical order] and gives insight into the layout of the airframe.

“It does this without waiting on a part of the plane to break or waiting for that task to come up. Ideally, 100 students can hop on from anywhere in the world, and an instructor can walk those students through the proper steps in real-time.”

The new VR setup is being used in training locations to address the trainer shortage issues throughout the maintenance career fields.

Upon the completion of the lab setup, The US Department of Defense (DoD) trainers can give students feedback and guidance in real-time.

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