Regulatory Hurdles Hamper Online And Virtual Training

Is the military far ahead of civil aviation in welcoming change?

Traditional thinking often sees military officials as slow to change methods. But in training aircraft mechanics, defense managers seem to be faster to embrace new technology than heavily regulated commercial companies.

Milan-based TXT e-solutions supports military aircraft mechanics with training software, explains Daniele Misani, head of training and simulations. It helps train mechanics on aircraft such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master and NHIndustries’ NH90 military helicopter. In civil aviation, TXT has helped train mechanics on rotorcraft.

“Today we provide a real-time, full-safe training environment that leverages virtual reality technology to create fully immersive learning experiences,” Misani says.

TXT is now seeking to expand this electronic training for mechanics on commercial aircraft. It can offer a platform on which to build training solutions, and it can offer training content as well. Misani says he is seeing interest from maintenance departments as well as cabin and pilot-training organizations. TXT actually has some contracts with commercial cabin-crew trainers, including a virtual-reality door trainer for the Airbus A350, but no contracts yet for mechanics on airline aircraft.

“We are talking to both OEMs and airlines on training commercial aircraft mechanics,” Misani says. However, airlines are reluctant to invest in training software as they are unsure whether it will be approved by regulators. Generally, “practical mechanics training must still be done on real aircraft. They are scared of investing money, the main block to funding by airlines is regulatory.”

The TXT exec says OEMs are starting to push for e-training solutions for mechanics, but “it is still early days, it is mostly proofs of concepts and pilot projects.”

As a European company, TXT works mostly with European airframe and engine OEMs and speaks frequently to EASA about regulatory prospects. Misani says he is hopeful for change here, but “changing rules takes time.”

When change comes, TXT will be ready with solutions. The company has 500 staff in its training unit and is partnering with leading tech companies such as HP and Microsoft for the latest in virtual and mixed reality.

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