With virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) technology advancing by the day, different sectors are looking at new and interesting ways to incorporate the tech into their operations.
We've already looked at some of these implementations in the workplace, as well as in the healthcare sector. With the augmented and virtual reality market in aviation projected to grow from $78 million in 2019 to $1.372 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 61.2% during the forecast period, we realized this would be the perfect sector to be exploring next for our article series.
So, here are 5 ways AR and VR are being used in the aviation field:
1. Pilot training
Perhaps the most well-known use of the technology in the sector, VR-use for training has been prevalent for quite a while now. Taking a page out of the simulator book, VR takes the simulation to the next level with 360-degree pseudo-realistic perspective, complete with peripheral vision and the perspective experience of being in a cockpit.
From a cost and time-perspective as well, VR training for both commercial and military pilots easily comes out on top.
"In April 2019, the U.S. Air Force launched a new VR training program called Pilot Training Next. A class of 30 students used VR headsets and advanced artificial intelligence (AI) biometrics equipment instead of exorbitantly-expensive flight simulators," AR/VR Learning & Training Platform Circuit Stream writes. "Typically, a legacy simulator for traditional pilot training costs around $4.5 million. The VR flight training program was just $1,000 per unit.
"Standard pilot training takes about one year to complete. In the VR-complimented Air Force class, 13 pilots graduated from the class within four months, achieving certification to fly in less than half the normal time, at a fraction of the cost."
2. Ground operations training
Ground operations in the field of aviation refer to the maintenance and handling of aircraft before they even make it out to the runway.
During 2017, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the launch of RampVR, the industry’s first virtual reality (VR) training platform for ground operations.
“Improving ramp safety and reducing damage to aircraft and ground equipment through better education and training is an industry priority, but training in this extremely active environment can be a challenge. RampVR allows users to safely immerse themselves in ramp operations and experience a variety of scenarios in different operating conditions. RampVR also provides users with built-in metrics to track their performance, and real-time access to key reference material,” said Frederic Leger, IATA’s Director for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security Products.
VR and AR also have implementations in the realm of aerospace engineering. Perhaps not too far off from a similar application in other mechanical fields like in the automotive industry, for example, VR can allow engineers to previsualize a project, be it an plane, engine, or other feature, before plans are even sent out to the factory.
This not only cuts on costs and saves time that would be wasted on trial and error attempts, it also gives engineers the opportunity to experiment in ways that a strictly physical world would not.
Not all VR/AR implementations in the aviation field need apply to the technical and logistical side of things. Just like in our everyday life, VR/AR headsets offer great entertainment opportunities for passengers stuck on a crowded flight. From giving passengers access to a 360-degree live feed camera attached to the outside of a plane, to transporting them to entirely virtual worlds, the sky is truly the limit with this one.
5. Helping solve flying phobias
Flying phobia, or aviophobia, continues to plague many people around the world. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 2.5% to 6.5% of the population of the US have a flight phobia, as cited by TIME magazine.
VR headsets pose the perfect opportunity to help cure aviophobia, as we've seen their successful use in treating other fears such as that of spiders, heights, and animals like dogs. VR therefore act as an extra tool medical professionals have in their arsenal in the implementation of exposure therapy, which naturally extends to fears of flying.