“Rotary-Wing Next” reduces aircraft flying time, training timeline
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs
/ Published October 11, 2019
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- “Rotary-Wing Next” marks a major milestone with the graduation here of the first undergraduate helicopter pilot training class to utilize virtual reality Friday Oct. 11, 2019.
The first six students to complete the experimental curriculum in an effort to transform the learning environment graduated six weeks earlier than normal training classes.
Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training - Helicopter Class 20-02 is the first class to use the VR training systems and started in May 2019. Supplementing training with VR reduced aircraft flying time approximately 35%, while students also gained 15 more hours of practice time using aircraft controls through the use of VR than previous classes.
“After 23.5 hours of VR instruction, students were able to hover, taxi and perform various other helicopter maneuvers unassisted by their instructor pilots on their very first flight,” said Capt. Matt Strick, 23rd Flying Training Squadron innovation flight lead. “We assessed the students to be at least seven days ahead of schedule at that point.”
The VR training project has been coined the “Project da Vinci” initiative, with a goal of ultimately reducing the time needed to teach the syllabus from 28 weeks to 14 weeks and to increase student production from 60 to 120 students a year without needing additional aircraft or flying hours.
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