British multinational engineering company Rolls-Royce Holdings plc announced Wednesday that it’s expanding its immersive virtual reality training programs for customer training with distance learning for business aircraft engine repairs.
This move follows a leap in remote work required because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has introduced an increased need to keep workers safe by allowing them to stay home when possible.
The latest addition to the Rolls-Royce immersive VR training suite is an instructor-led distance learning course that provides an overview of the construction, design and operation of the Rolls-Royce BR725 engine that powers Gulfstream’s current flagship G650 aircraft range.
After the completion of a two-day training course, participants will be able to service the engine and undertake nonroutine maintenance.
The company believes this additional program represents a new way to educate technicians rapidly anywhere in the world, without the need for hands-on simulations. Although the hands-on itself experience cannot be replaced, VR technology can be a powerful stepping stone. As a result, it could be used during remote work situations – such as the current pandemic – or simply to allow workers to refresh themselves and catch up with courses without the logistical need to set aside campus space every time.
“Digitalization plays a vital role in bringing our IntelligentEngine vision to life; we use it to design, test and maintain our engines,” Andy Robinson, senior vice president of customers and services at Rolls-Royce, said. “This new immersive live Virtual Training tool is nothing short of a game-changer — it makes us the leader in technical training and allows customers to participate in the new training, wherever they are in the world. They just need an internet connection, and the required VR equipment, which will be shipped directly to their door.”
The training scenario uses VR technology to completely immerse students and delivers a real-to-life view of the engine and its working parts. Using VR tech, it’s possible to whisk away a participant, sitting in her own living room, and make it appear as if she’s standing next to an aircraft in a hangar. With high-fidelity 3D rendering, the engine and all its parts can be displayed, assembled, disassembled and simulated in any manner needed to facilitate training.
“This program allows each student to immerse themselves in an augmented environment full of realistic images, interactive functions and auditory feedback to delve deeper into the engine like never before,” Lee Bradshaw, director of technical operations at Cox Aviation, said. “The course complements the industry-leading service already provided by Rolls-Royce and is another reminder of why this company is pioneering the way in creative solutions for the future.”
Rolls-Royce has been using VR to assist with the engineering of engine and aeronautics technology for years and has deployed VR training in the past as well. During 2019, Rolls-Royce and Qatar Airways teamed up to provide comprehensive VR training for maintenance of the Trent XWB engine, which powers the Airbus A350 series.
“We’re looking at creating holograms of an engine that we can use to teach in a classroom, or augmented reality that can be overlaid over a real engine to show technical information,” said Steve Buckland, a customer and product training manager at Rolls-Royce. “Nothing will beat learning with an engine and this will never be replaced, but new technology is allowing us to be innovative with the ways we teach engineers.”