U.S. Navy sailors assigned to the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) air department began using virtual-reality to simulate flight deck operations inside the mobile Carrier-Advanced Reconfigurable Training System (C-ARTS) classroom located at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.

US Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt/Released.

The trainer allows the sailors to actively practice the procedures of flight operations in real time while the ship is pier side.

The C-ARTS classrooms have been in operation since December 2018 while Ford was at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia.

“Some of these sailors here, right now, have had zero flight deck experience,” said Lt. Brianne Law, a Naval Flight Officer, from Pensacola, Florida, serving aboard Ford. “So, one of the great things about the virtual reality simulator is that we can do demonstrations. The sailors can put on the virtual reality goggles and see exactly what is going to happen.”

The flight deck of an aircraft carrier during flight operations can be very hectic with personnel and equipment moving around constantly. There are many variables to account for. Being able to simulate as many of these different circumstances in a safe environment is extremely beneficial to sailors.

“If something is wrong on the flight deck or somebody is giving a suspend signal, here is what I am going to do,” said Law. “You can walk through that scenario and go through the motions. Doing the actual procedures, in a simulated environment. That is a lot safer.”

As sailors rotate from Ford, so does their base of knowledge. Finding economical ways to train year-round is the primary purpose of the C-ARTS trainers.

“In aviation we have simulators,” said Law. “We have that built into our syllabus and that allows us to save time and money and allows us to get additional training. We thought it would be a good concept for carriers.”

 The C-ARTS trainers can be arranged to facilitate virtual reality training along with augmented reality and mixed reality training. This allowed Ford to meet necessary training requirements for flight operations.