It is interesting to an observer of the great and the small within our industry to be able to talk face to face and openly with executives from some of the larger corporations – something that is often difficult to engineer. MONCh had the opportunity at ITEC 2018 for a brief conversation with Victor Torla, Business Development Director Training and Simulation Solutions for Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems in Orlando, FL.
Picking up on a comment regarding the changes taking place in the maintenance training continuum – specifically for the air domain but equally applicable to the land and maritime environments – Mr. Torla told MONCh “we’re in the middle of a cultural transition – how best to train maintainers.” He went on to explain that – while there is a strong belief that soldiers, sailors and airmen “have a deep-rooted need to actually touch hardware,” the community at large has become much more receptive to the use of virtual reality (VR). “It’s becoming accepted as a better place in which to learn procedures, for example,” he explained.
Augmented reality (AR), too, is becoming more acceptable in even the most conservative of training environments. “There are applications today in which comprehensive checklist training takes place almost exclusively in VR – adding AR to this brings the additional benefit that the trainee can refer to the asset and bring up associated information in real time – in training or even in the field,” he observed, highlighting the increasing instance in which the once carefully defined lines between training and operations are becoming somewhat blurred.
The great majority of F-35 maintenance training is already being done in a virtual maintenance trainer (VMT) environment, Mr. Torla explained. If it’s good enough for a fifth generation combat aircraft, it’s probably good enough for just about any application imaginable, to be honest.