USAF to use VR technology for C-130 maintenance training

27 January 2020 (Last Updated January 27th, 2020 15:21)

The US Air Mobility Command (AMC) and Air Education and Training Command (AETC), along with the US Air Force (USAF), have teamed up to develop a virtual reality (VR) platform for training purposes.

USAF to use VR technology for C-130 maintenance training
A maintenance qualifications training instructor uses a virtual reality headset at Little Rock Air Force Base. Credit: USAF / Airman 1st Class Aaron Irvin.

The US Air Mobility Command (AMC) and Air Education and Training Command (AETC), along with the US Air Force (USAF), have teamed up to develop a virtual reality (VR) platform for training purposes.

The VR solution will allow the USAF to offer safe and effective training to new maintenance airmen on mission-essential tasks.

The technology is focused on the C-130 and is expected to be completed by mid-2020. It is being designed to provide a visual environment covering the intricate details of the C-130H Hercules and C-130J Super Hercules aircraft.

Contractor Mass Virtual is working on the development of the VR training platform. The computer software company is involved in providing virtual offerings to several organisations.

The effort is also being supported by a working group set up by the C-130 enterprise and includes airlift wings from Little Rock Air Force Base (AFB), Dyess AFB in Texas, Yokota Air Base in Japan and Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

The working group will focus on removing duplication of effort during the development of the VR platform.

USAF 19th Maintenance Group development and instructor section chief master sergeant Nicholas Massingill said: “We pulled together with other wings to develop work tasks that would be most beneficial to invest in for airmen, allowing us to establish a VR platform with a focus on the C-130.”

The new technology will eliminate the need for a C-130 aircraft to be down for days for training and also reduces the time taken for coordination.

Massingill added: “We request an aircraft to be down three days a week in order to train our students.

“When we do that, we are taking aircraft away from the mission. While VR will never replace hands-on training, it will help bring familiarisation to the task, so the instructors can speed up the process when conducting hands-on training.”

Workshop for the VR platform would be initially located in 19th MXG maintenance training section and around 230 maintenance airmen will receive training.

A VR unit will initially consist of a virtual hangar to allow the trainee to complete tasks such as propeller, tire and brake replacement.