A pair of connected, camera-equipped augmented reality (AR) glasses can multiply a mechanic‘s capabilities and productivity several-fold, allow them to access repair manuals, watch instructional videos and live-stream to experts for remote assistance.
The technology, along with virtual reality, also has great potential to train new mechanics, as demonstrated at the Dubai air show, where AFI KLM E&M has revealed its HoloLens mixed reality glasses.
Developed with the Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre via a joint venture called Nuveon, HoloLens can superimpose a virtual environment over the real one, allowing complex systems and components to be recreated as a hologram in the wearer’s vision.
The technology has been trialed – and Part 145 EASA certified – with Gulf Air to train engineers on the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000, but AFI KLM E&M says that modules for other engines and systems are available.
Speaking to Inside MRO earlier this year, Gerrit Rexhausen, program manager of corporate innovation at Lufthansa Technik, was also impressed by the potential of AR technologies.
“AR technology offers great advantages in the preparation and display of data, especially in the maintenance area of a hangar. We increasingly want to replace the fixed workstations in the hangars and aggregate the required IT systems on a mobile device,” he said.
Back at Gulf Air, chief executive Kresimir Kucko, said that "the participants in the training module were quickly won over by the simplicity and modernity of the solution.“
Notable here is the emphasis on simplicity, for while virtual reality training solutions are potentially more immersive, few virtual reality (VR) goggles offer the “complete freedom of movement“ the AFI KLM E&M promises from HoloLens.
Another disadvantage of VR is that it is a completely virtual environemnt, rather than a synthersis of real and holographic, although no doubt its immersive qualities will prove ideal for certain other types of training.