The Australian Department of Defence has announced that the No 36 Squadron aircraft technicians are using HoloLens mixed-reality devices for aircraft maintenance.

Microsoft HoloLens mixed-reality devices are being used with software developed by Boeing for C-17A Globemaster III aircraft maintenance.

Traditionally, specialist technicians of Boeing support repair and replacement tasks by travelling to Australia. The technicians are known as the recovery and modifications services team (RAMS).

However, technicians were not able to visit this time due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the travel restrictions in place.

This situation led to technicians exploring virtual reality with Microsoft HoloLens.

A trial into making virtual reality possible commenced at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Amberley this July.

Maintenance team supervisor sergeant Thomas Lane said: “Through a secure ‘Cloud’ connection, my team and the technicians in the US can work seamlessly together by sharing screens and see exactly what they are seeing inside the aircraft through iris tracking.

“The first project was to replace the floatation equipment deployment systems panels inside C-17s, which consist of explosive components that deploy life rafts in an emergency.

“This technology is a massive benefit to resourcing the workforce moving forward, with significant potential to empower and train less-experienced technicians.”

Boeing C-17A field services manager Glen Schneider added that this technology will eliminate the need for travel in the future and increase efficiency.

Schneider said: “After the initial maintenance activity, No 36 Squadron will continue the trial with two HoloLens devices that can be used by accompanied maintenance teams.

“Technicians can connect with the Boeing field engineering team while they are away on a domestic or international mission and will aid them to troubleshoot any unique maintenance issues they encounter.”