David Wells, head of engineer at the Jetstar Group in Australia

Fast 5: Jetstar Airways Develops and Deploys Virtual Reality in MRO Operation

David Wells, head of engineering at the Jetstar Group in Australia, talks about how the airline developed virtual reality maintenance training—a first in Australia. So far the carrier has rolled it out for Boeing 787 and Airbus A320 training and has seen shorter than expected immersive learning periods, about 30 minutes compared to 3- 3.5 hours.

Why did Jetstar develop the tool in-house opposed to using a virtual reality (VR) specialist and how did you do it?

While Jetstar provided the aircraft technical subject matter and training expertise, a specialist company called StaplesVR provided the VR gaming technology. Together, we shared our knowledge and skills in a collaborative approach to deliver what you see today. 

Did you plan it to take two years?

Of course we looked for a shorter timeline, however, capturing all the required data through LIDAR technology, which is the laser detection system designed to replicate the hangars and aircraft, took a considerable amount of time to get it just right. The visual rendering and storyboard editing was also a time-consuming process but provided us with great lessons and we’re really proud of the end result.

What are the benefits Jetstar has seen so far and are the metrics tracking where you hoped?

First and foremost, it has provided operational benefits, saving hours of aircraft time. VR has also meant that our engineers can have self-paced shorter learning periods, improved learning with built-in assessment, improved recording and reporting of the training, and reduced access to a real aircraft. 

The system has not been in place long enough to gain sufficient real-time metrics, but we are excited about our initial static testing that suggests better than expected results.

How are people being trained on it and how does this training compare to more traditional methods?

We’re currently in a “proof of concept’ stage with about 30 employees taking part in the development experience. However, we are now working towards rolling out both aircraft products to the engineering team, which will see approximately 100 employees per year to be trained for each aircraft type.

Compared to previous methods, we expect to save about three hours per employee per year per aircraft type, with better learning outcomes and the opportunity to introduce an assessment that we didn’t have previously.

Does Jetstar plan to incorporate augmented reality with it?

Definitely. We’re developing an augmented reality (AR) version of the training for iPads so it can be deployed to all maintenance workers. We’re also looking at other applications where AR could benefit our business.

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