Rolls-Royce has launched its new Virtual Reality Maintenance Training Software for its AE 2100 engines powering C-130J aircraft, with the first training system to enter service with the U.S. Air Force at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. The 58th Maintenance Group (MXG) is part of the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland. The wing flies HC-130J and MC-130J aircraft and operates within the Air Force Air Education and Training Command.

The new Virtual Reality (VR) system will allow engine maintainers to learn and practice their skills in an immersive visual environment, increasing efficiency and reducing cost. The software enables students and instructors to practice on a virtual AE 2100 engine, replicated in form and function. This creates an environment for students to ‘learn by doing,’ increasing their recall by completing multiple repetitions. Kinesthetic active learning has been shown to dramatically enhance knowledge retention.

For a report on NATO's latest efforts to adapt training, check out NATO Responds – Opportunities and Challenges of Virtual Training.

U.S. Air Force Col. JB Baquet, the 58th MXG Commander, said the innovation would enhance the evolution of training. “We must transform the way we learn,” Baquet explained. “The VR maintenance system will enhance training efficiency, shorten the learning curve, accelerate skill levels, and improve fleet readiness.”

The training improves student engagement and enhances troubleshooting skills, while featuring networked learning to enable multiple individuals to train simultaneously from around the world.

Air Force Master Sgt Joe Muscarella, 58th MXG Lead Production Superintendent, said: “The system allows maintainers to virtually remove, examine and replace AE 2100 engine components without risk of damage to the equipment, an engine, or personnel injuries. Maintainers can safely train and practice anytime, anywhere, and gain hands-on experience without any mission disruption. We can also gain a better understanding of engine operations, performance parameters and component removal, as well as well as installation practices and procedures.”

The VR system was developed by Rolls-Royce in Indianapolis, Indiana, the company’s primary defense business location in the U.S., with fully integrated capabilities in digital design, development, engineering, manufacturing and services in one location.