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Carrier flight deck crews set to receive virtual reality oriented training

Carrier flight deck crews require extensive training along with updated knowledge of recent technological advances. Safety is also a key focus area of such training. Keeping the safety and knowledge upgradation of carrier flight deck crews in mind, the Office of Naval Research has engineered an immersive, game-oriented virtual reality based, three dimensional environment. It will be utilised to train teams and individual crew members regarding how to land and launch an aircraft.

In the past, flight deck crew members were recipients of refresher training and readiness training, either in classroom settings or on carriers. It meant that crew was not trained with the help of actual equipment, and in scenarios where teammate interactions are important. This technology is a prototype titled as the Flight Deck Crew Refresher Training Expansion Packs. It will provide state-of-the-art training features for 100 individual members a carrier’s landing signal officer group, chief flight control group, and its catapult launch group.

Cmdr. Mehdi Akacem, Air Boss of USS Gerald R. Ford, the US Navy’s latest aircraft carrier, elaborated that risks were numerous on a typical flight deck. He added that many aspects needed to be deep-rooted among each functional crew member on a flight deck, in order to ensure safety and efficiency of operations. According to him, having possession of a simulation system helps him and his peers to effectively bind the entire flight deck team with important supervisors, crucial decision makers, watch stations and catapult crew members. He expressed that the nature of the training, delivered in an immersive virtual reality environment, as captivating.

Courtney McNamara, Advanced Gaming Interactive Learning Environment Team leader at the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, expressed her views in a video. She described the technology, stating that the extension pack system for training flight deck crew members, will be crafted into a capacious framework. She explained that such a framework will enable the building and adding on of every team, resulting in a broader training perspective.

The Flight Deck Crew Refresher Training Expansion Packs system was developed by a collaboration of the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division and ONR Global TechSolutions. ONR officials revealed that it is a fast-response tech and science program to create problem-solving prototypes for addressing the concerns of force and fleet members. The response time to such concerns is typically 12 months, according to ONR.

Lt. Cmdr. Kristin Acton, who is a former catapult officer, also shared her viewpoint regarding the development. She stated that previously, such a diverse set of flight deck training aspects were impossible to integrate together, for training and preparation purposes. According to her, the ability to send people for periodic immersive technology training prior to sending them into the sea is a step that inherently raises overall safety. She also stated that the technology-driven training features will also aid in further updating knowledge and skills, thus ensuring the best possible preparation before practically launching aircraft in real-life scenarios.


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