The Potential for Improving Maintainer, Equipment and Flight Safety through Virtual Maintenance Training 2009-01-3225
Aircraft maintenance is difficult and dangerous work, often involving cramped, extreme environments. Therefore, aircraft maintenance can result in damaged equipment and systems, or worse, injury to the maintainer. Furthermore, the safety of an aircraft and its passengers is largely dependent on the maintainers as well. This paper explores how Virtual Maintenance Trainers (VMTs), which are software-based simulated maintenance environments, have the potential to mitigate these risks, while reducing training time and costs. By providing a safe environment through which the maintainer can make otherwise dangerous or costly mistakes, VMTs improve the maintainer's ability to avoid these mistakes during actual maintenance. The ability to see consequences of a mistake, even in a virtual world, can be more effective than simply being informed of those consequences by an instructor. The flexibility of VMTs allows instructors to easily introduce maintainers to a wider-range of faults than would otherwise be possible with a hardware-based trainer. Finally, a VMT can be used as a vetting process for new hires, testing basic knowledge of mechanics and safety awareness. This paper provides justification for these improvements to the maintenance training processes and discusses how a virtual maintenance trainer avoids unsafe work environments and damaged equipment, and reduces instructor workloads while still enabling direct feedback to students.