Taking to the skies can be a daunting task for some people. Regardless of whether we like to fly or fear stepping on a plane, we all have one thing in common: we want our pilot to be experienced and get us to our destination in a timely manner.
Pilot training is not easy . If something goes wrong when a pilot is in the air, the consequences can be catastrophic. That is why it is important that each person training to be a pilot learn to fly on the ground before taking over a real plane.
Flight simulators are a great way for the apprentice pilot to learn the mechanics of how to fly an airplane without any of the negative consequences should something go wrong. For new pilots-in-training, this is really the only way to learn safely.
This has been the way pilots have started their training for a long time, but there is a new technology that is gaining interest.
Aren’t Flight Simulators Virtual Reality Anyway?
In most of the cases, no. In simple terms, flight simulations occur inside specifically built test cabins while the flight simulation software is running and are mounted on a platform that can move. This provides a fairly realistic experience of flying an airplane and allows pilots in training to make all their mistakes while firmly on the ground.
Being able to press the reset button allows students to practice without the stress. This is a very simplistic description of a flight simulation, as each simulator can cost millions of pounds to build and run. The cost of having this specially designed simulator means that the cost of training pilots in this way is enormous.
Virtual reality , on the other hand, offers a similar experience, but is arguably a more realistic experience. The trainee pilot would wear a virtual reality headset that would contain software similar to a flight simulation. The cockpit and the exterior of the plane will be virtual and the student will interact with the virtual world while learning to fly the plane.
Why is Virtual Reality used?
It is well known that flight simulation is a great way to learn because there is a reset button. If something goes wrong, restart the program and try again. This is good to start with, but as pilots learn more they need a more realistic environment . A simulator doesn’t feel real as movement, etc. is limited. While in a simulator, students can act very differently than they would in a real shot where the consequences of a mistake would be dire.
Virtual reality is believed to be the next step in simulation because immersion in the virtual world makes the whole experience feel more real. Feedback from the actions pilots-in-training take can feel more realistic, and therefore when absorbed in the virtual reality training session, people are more likely to act the way they would if they were flying. on a real plane . This sense of reality should enhance training.
Using virtual reality is estimated to save money as well. Huge simulators won’t be required to build as they are found in many test facilities, and involve multiple parts to make the experience as realistic as possible. If you use virtual reality, the hardware will remain the same regardless of the type of aircraft being flown virtually. The virtual simulation software will be able to adapt to any plan that is required and the correct package loaded for the session.
When changes are made to the drawings, the software will need to be updated, but no costly changes to the simulation machines will be required. This will also add flexibility to where pilots-in-training can train, as it will be more affordable to have virtual reality headsets than to build new simulators.
Another estimate is that the time it takes for pilots in training to finish their training will be shortened by virtual reality to get them to the skies faster. This will save money, but it also means that people looking to enter an aviation career will have a shorter path, possibly attracting more people to join the industry.
Is Virtual Reality Really Improving Pilot Training?
Clearly, there are many benefits to bringing virtual reality to future pilot training. However, at the moment flight simulators don’t go far enough, even when adding virtual reality to the mix. There is still a significant gap between the virtual world and the real world and no matter how real the virtual world feels, there will always be the convenience and security of the reset button.
The only way to get a good quality flight experience is to go to the sky and fly. However, when pilots begin their training and begin to learn to fly, virtual reality is a great tool and pilots who have had access to virtual reality flight simulation are likely to progress much more quickly. There is less risk, less stress, and fewer real consequences when things go wrong in a simulator.