The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) intends to use virtual reality (VR) technology to build flight simulation trainers as part of efforts to provide immersive training environments.

The Naval Aviation Training Systems programme office is currently developing new trainers for the F/A-18 Super Hornet, the TH-57 Sea Ranger training helicopter and the T-45 Goshawk jet trainer.

The VR technology will enable the trainer to be deployed with a much smaller footprint than the platform’s current, dome-based flight simulators.

“The PTTs will consist of actual operation flight trainer T-45s, where the trainee will sit while outfitted with VR goggles.”

It would also facilitate deployment, help enhance fidelity, enable improved use of actual training flights and reduce costs.

The TH-57 helicopter will have two part task trainers (PTTs) that will be aimed at making new trainees more comfortable before their first low-level familiarisation flights.

Naval Aviation Training Systems Programme Office aviation warfare training development lead Chris Foster said it is expected that putting students through a few VR familiarisation flights on a desktop trainer first will improve their performance when they take their first low-level flights in an actual TH-57 aircraft.

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The T-45 systems will also have two PTTs, which, by using VR and augmented reality visual system technology, will help render a trainer that both enhance fidelity and reduces the high lifecycle cost of the T-45’s current dome simulators.

The PTTs will consist of actual operation flight trainer T-45s, where the trainee will sit while outfitted with VR goggles.

Foster said: “When you’re looking through the goggles you’re going to be able to see outside the cockpit, but we also need there to be a virtual representation of the physical cockpit that the trainee would see and they should then be able to interact accurately and reliably with the physical cockpit but relying on its virtual representation.”

In addition to the new flight trainers, VR is expected also play a major role in new immersive mishap awareness training.