AMSTERDAM—Technical training in maintenance, repair and overhaul is “ripe for disruption,” with applications such as virtual reality technology predicted to become as disruptive to maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) training as 3-D printing is to parts manufacturing, according to a leading aviation industry expert.
Jonathan Berger, vice president of consultancy firm ICF International, called on MROs to implement virtual reality (VR) applications into their training programs. “Tools like these [VR] need to be incorporated now,” he said. “The technology is available and it will really disrupt the whole training industry,” he said Oct. 18 at Aviation Week’s MRO Europe, during an MRO market update and industry-trends presentation.
The need for the MRO sector to utilize virtual-reality technologies, according to Berger, is to help reduce technician training times. He said when ICF built models and new business cases for MROs, it identified a period of 5–6 years as a timeframe for how long it takes for a mechanic to become fully productive.
“Until then, they [mechanics] are 25% of FTE [flight test engineers], before going up to 50% and then onto 75%, before eventually becoming 100%,” Berger said. “The process for a technician to learn to troubleshoot aircraft like a 777 or an A350 on the line by themselves takes about 5–6 years of on-the-job training and attending classes.”
Berger also pondered the scenario of reducing the typical 5–6-year process down by 1–2 years, through the advent of virtual reality technologies. “Mechanics have to be put on the aircraft, and into an environment where they can learn, touch and feel the aircraft and understand it,” he said.