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US Air Education and Training Command (AETC) is giving airfield management students a more hands-on learning experience with a new virtual reality (VR) training simulation.

Trainees of the 334th Training Squadron tried out the VR training simulation at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi at the end of June.

The simulation includes the setting of an airfield and allows students to practice their job as if they were operational.

Chief master sergeant Paul Portugal, who is the airfield management career field manager, said: “Innovation and the continuum of learning has always been a priority of AETC to make our Airmen more effective and efficient.”

Master sergeant Joshua Stillwagon, a 334th Training Squadron instructor, believes that training in VR is more efficient than the previous, lecture-based class.

He added: “This system gives instructors the capability to not just tell Airmen, but instantly show them a concept.”

“The VR technology gives our students a visual representation of airfield hazards that can be unsafe,” Portugal continued. “They don’t need to imagine it, they can visualise cranes, trees or other things that can affect flight safety.”

Portugal said: “The technological jump that we are making in how we create more efficient and effective Airmen is the biggest part of this.”

Colonel Leo Lawson Jr, previously the 81st Training Group commander, was impressed with the quality of the new VR experience.

“The VR training simulations blew me away,” Lawson said. “Not only was it able to deliver the training our Airmen need to understand the concept of the job, but it did so with great quality.”

In April, immersive training and simulation programme startup HTX Labs was awarded funding to continue developing its platform for military applications.

The US Air Force granted the Small Business Innovation Research Phase I award to Houston-based HTX after adopting the startup’s Empact VR platform for pilot training.

Image credit: Air Education and Training Command