The Office of Naval Research (ONR) describes the deck of an aircraft carrier as “one of the most dangerous environments” within the United States Navy. The chaotic environment brings high winds, dangerous equipment, engines, and propellers, all while the crew tries to guide aircraft pilots toward a safe landing.
In the past, the crew would first learn the ins and outs of deck life while on the job, however, now they can receive training in the form of simulation with a new system dubbed the Flight Deck Crew Refresher Training Expansion Packs (TEPs). The system allows for individual, team, and multi-team exercises within an “expandable framework of game-based, immersive 3D technologies,” according to ONR.
TEPs was developed by the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) and the ONR Global and TechSolutions program.
“Having a simulator that allows us to tie the full flight deck team with all the key decision-makers, supervisors, catapult crew, and watch stations together—and train in a virtual environment—is just fantastic,” says Commander Mehdi Akacem, Air Boss aboard the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).
The first three TEPs will target the Primary Flight Control, Landing Signal Officer (LSO), and Catapult Launch teams with helpful training events. Simulating real-life events in virtual reality (VR), the system utilizes actual flight patterns conducted by pilots. It also can range from mimicking normal, day-to-day operations, to emergency situations.
“This is really the first example I’ve seen of extending the value of a simulation environment to such an essential, tangible thing as a carrier flight deck,” says Akacem. “It’s really a need we’ve had for years, one we’ve been able to get by without because of the grit and will of our sailors and marines.”
According to ONR, the idea for TEPs originated from an LSO instructor at Naval Air Station OCEANA.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense, Virtual reality