Affirmation. And so it was that WATS 2024 further confirmed several themes in Halldale’s editorial programs, including “blurring lines” – when the same baseline learning technologies are used in adjacent critical training spaces.

On cue, Julian Abich IV, PhD, Senior Human Factors Engineer at Quantum Improvements Consulting, used a rapidly maturing US Air Force flight simulator program as a discussion point with his presentation to this commercial aviation training gathering. Front and center was Vertex Solutions’ Multi-place Mixed Reality (MPMR) Advanced Training Device (ATD) (MPMR). Emphasizing this MPMR was a prototype being fielded for further service with the service’s rotary aircraft (TH-1H in this instance) community, Abich walked delegates through his template for training simulator evaluation. This topic should of huge interest to commercial training enterprise technology teams, given the continued evolution of training devices, and, more significant, the community being on the cusp of fielding training systems for AAM purposes. The well-versed human factors engineer highlighted the evaluation process focused on the MPMR’s components and their roles in training. Feedback in this unbiased, matter-of-fact process provided recommendations for further, minor calibration and other low-level actions to best synchronize the aircrew’s actions with onboard materiel supporting live and XR-immersed training. Indeed, the Vertex Solutions team has appeared to get it right – with feedback noting 70-100% of the device’s content was in agreement with required training tasks. CAT companion editorial program MS&T will watch and comment on MPMR’s evolution and fielding to USAF. 

Fabi Riesen, CEO and Founder of Loft Dynamics, had a huge success story to convey to WATS delegates – recapping that the Loft Dynamics-Airbus Helicopters team gained EASA regulation flight training device (FTD) Level 3 qualification with Virtual Reality (VR) technology. The project developed all in house also uses outside content including Varjo HMDs. Riesen noted the EASA-approved H125 VR simulator continues to find favor with an expanding global customer base including, in part, Blackcomb Helicopters LP of Canada and Mountainflyers Ltd. of Switzerland. A portfolio expansion included Loft Dynamics’ partnership with HMotion — a joint venture between Airbus Helicopters and ADAC HEMS Academy — for the delivery of two Airbus H145 VR FSTDs, which will be installed at a new simulator center in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Much more significant, was the July 2023 announcement that Loft Dynamics announced its partnership with FAA for the delivery to the organization’s Atlantic City, New Jersey innovation hub of an Airbus H125 VR simulator and a Robinson R22 VR simulator to explore VR flight simulation technology to expand pilot training and conduct critical safety research. The community subject matter expert emphasized the company’s VR simulator technology (one device available to put through its paces at this WATS), offers numerous attributes, including a smaller footprint and the ability to offload many more tasks from the supported helicopter to the simulator, resulting in a higher fidelity training environment, “being up to 20 times more cost-effective.”  

It was appropriate that Amanda Bentley, Senior Director for Integration Sales for the Americas at Tobii and Aki Nikolaidis, PhD, VTR’s Chief Officer, teamed up to discuss their collaborative efforts to deliver a VR device with eye tracking for training audiences. In essence, VTR’s FlightDeckToGo™ uses true visual eye tracking mapped to specific targets for those procedural steps that require visual verification. The product enables other efficiencies including accelerated skill development, full immersion and others, by allowing the instructor to verify students were looking exactly where they need to look. All this is accomplished in scenarios up to those with high-density content. The company’s chief scientist emphasized by capturing the entire scenario, learning gaps can be uncovered and corrected to allow the aspiring aviator to hone skills in flight performance, decision-making, situational awareness, hazard event recovery and others – hitting sweet spots that airlines seek from their pilots. And beyond teaming eye tracking and a VR device, VTR optimizes data to raise the bar on learning.

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