VR technology is increasingly used for procedure, flight or maintenance training by large organizations like the U.S. Airforce, NASA and major airlines, including KLM. High-quality, adequate training has always been crucial in the aviation industry, no doubt. But why has VR pilot training been replacing some traditional methods in recent years?

Training a pilot is an expensive process. Every pilot needs to fly a real aircraft for multiple hours before receiving a license. But some tasks (especially learning procedures) are better off done in a simulated environment. This way, you can save money and time.

This is why airlines, space agencies and air forces use specialistic flight simulators. However effective they are in specific fields, these simulators have several downsides. A new approach in aviation training shows that virtual reality (VR) offers excellent opportunities to eliminate these issues.

VR aviation training – new opportunities

One area where VR truly shines is procedure training for pilots and cabin crews. For example, the Air France-KLM Airlines Group uses the Meta Quest 2 for pilot training. The trainees can take the headset home and train for as long as they need. This includes them familiarizing the aircraft and 360-degree walkarounds.

Thanks to this, once they enter the real aircraft, they know the basics like the cockpit layout and how to perform the startup procedure. FLYING Magazine speaks about this in more detail on their website.

Modern technology and software also open the possibility of creating a full flight simulator in virtual reality. But using virtual flight controls, buttons and levers may be a bit of a challenge. So it’s better to utilize a combination of virtual and physical controls if you want to replace a traditional professional flight simulator.

Why exactly should a flying school start a VR pilot training program?

How VR improves procedure and flight training

Of course, every training process has its advantages and downsides. Standard simulators are still useful in some cases. But our goal is to emphasize a few significant benefits of VR pilot training of which many people are not aware.

Man using throttle lever in a VR aviation simulator

#1 Effective learning tools

We’re a strong advocate of VR training because it’s very effective. Knowledge retention is higher than with lectures, textbooks and videos because virtual reality replicates a real experience. It allows you to use unique learning tools too. For example, you can display instructions and training hints directly on the control panels and instruments.

VR pilot training allows for automatization of the process. Instead of engaging an actual teacher, which generates costs or downtimes, you can create a virtual procedure trainer in the software. An in-app assistant that will guide trainees through all the steps of the program. When training comes to an end, you can quickly evaluate the pilots’ knowledge through a quiz.

#2 Mobility and efficiency

VR headsets are portable, so you can perform the procedure training anywhere, at any time – remote training becomes a viable option. The devices are also relatively inexpensive. Of course, there is the initial cost of app development, but you don’t need an actual employee to be present at every step of the way.

VR devices with physical cockpit elements are also cheaper than traditional simulators. For example, you can create a small stand with a yoke and main controls and ad a VR cockpit instead of building an entire cockpit for the simulator.

Finally, VR pilot training is efficient because of its scalability. It’s easy to add new features and modules to the training program anytime.

#3 Customizable scenarios

You can change the cockpit appearance as well as the internal and external conditions. This is great for simulating some emergencies, like a cabin fire. Using VR, you can create realistic flames or dense smoke, which will help the student pilots familiarize emergency procedures.

A virtual accident or simulated dangerous situation affects the employee’s future behavior more than a book or video. It leaves a lasting impression on the employee’s psyche and can make them calmer when a threat occurs in real life.

In the past, we worked on VR training for flight deck officers. It’s a realistic simulation intended to allow the user experience an emergency first-hand without the risk of it ending badly.

#4 Depth perception

Comparison of depth perception in a standard simulator and VR pilot training headset

In a physical flight simulator, you see the outside environment through 2D screens. They don’t offer any depth of view or 3D vision. All of the presented objects seem to be at the same distance. So the trainee can’t practice proper judging of distances which is an essential skill. With a VR head-mounted display, you have a truly immersive experience with lifelike 3D effects.

#5 360-degree view

Comparison of field of view in standard and VR aviation training

Besides giving a depth of view, VR pilot training solutions offer a 360-degree view of the surroundings. Walkthroughs of the aircraft become realistic like never before!

Thanks to motion sensors, the view from virtual windows changes whenever you change position, making it more realistic. For example, if you’re simulating an engine fire, the trainee pilot can look out the window to visually assess the situation. This is something impossible with 2D screens, where the perspective is fixed.

Develop VR pilot training with a trusted partner

As you can see, virtual reality is making real impacts in the aviation industry. It’s cost-effective, scalable and efficient. If you’re working in aviation, we strongly recommend considering developing a virtual reality training program. Where should you start?

By establishing what your organization needs and how exactly it can benefit from virtual reality. To help you determine these things and develop a plan, we offer a wide range of consulting services.

With more than 200 projects in our portfolio and an experienced Art Team, we’re experts in creating virtual environments. Our UI/UX experts will make your virtual cockpit indistinguishable from a real one.

Finally, our R&D team will find innovative solutions, and our developers will make them come to life. Find out more about our VR development offer and schedule a free consultation with our business experts.

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Marketing Specialist

Marketing specialist with four years of experience. Having spent part of his childhood in Ireland, he's fascinated with its culture and language. Loves history, football and any form of writing.