IATA’s Director for Airport, Passenger, Cargo, and Security reveals how this new approach to learning brings knowledge sharing to life

If you think that Virtual Reality (VR) is simply for gaming enthusiasts, you’ve got it all wrong. Enterprises, which started to adopt virtual reality initially purely for marketing purposes, have realized the immense potential of the application of the technology notably in training and developing employees. ABI Research, a leader in emerging technology intelligence, forecasts that the enterprise VR training market will generate $216 million in 2018 and grow to $6.3 billion in 2022. 

IATA, a leading provider of training for the aviation industry, sees the benefits that immersive learning brings to operational training and has developed RampVR – a virtual reality training solution for airport and ground operations. 

RampVR allows the trainee to be immersed in a safe, virtual airport environment and be able to experience multiple scenarios, aircraft types, and weather conditions while conducting safety inspections or marshalling an aircraft. The complexities of accessing the airport and having an aircraft available are eliminated by realistically simulating the environment in VR. 

VR’s impact on learning
Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security claims “innovative technology is the key. VR in the learning context increases knowledge retention by as much as four times while improving motivation and engagement. VR is here to stay.” 

In addition, unlike traditional on-site training, VR allows tracking of behaviors and interactions such as eye gaze and movement in order to provide immediate feedback. Information such as how long it takes the trainee to complete tasks, which areas they pay more attention to and which ones they miss, and how they interact or react to the environment, are examples of data that could be extracted from VR. The data collected and analyzed could be extrapolated and provide the opportunity to offer a more personalized and customized training appropriate to the trainee’s needs and competency. 

RampVR training deployed globally
Since the launch of RampVR in May 2017, IATA has integrated the solution in its training programs and deployed it in its Training Centers worldwide. Hundreds of trainees from various companies have gone through the VR-enabled training on marshalling and turnaround inspection courses learning how to properly gesture an aircraft and ensure a stand is ready for an aircraft’s arrival. 

Through RampVR, IATA is pursuing its objective to disseminate IATA standards and believes that this innovation will improve safety and increase efficiency in the industry. 

“IATA will continue its investments in VR as it supports IATA’s number one priority – safety. On top of that it brings efficiency to the industry”, Careen says.

“Augmented” view – looking into the future
IATA will continue to enhance the current modules as well as start the development of additional VR training modules, more specifically in cargo, in collaboration with industry stakeholders. In parallel, a pilot study will be conducted with an airport operator to analyze the tangible benefits of RampVR training around knowledge retention, performance, cost avoidance and incident reductions. This major European airport will incorporate RampVR in their training and the results will be published in a white paper. 

For VR to be recognized as a viable training tool or replacement of practical training, IATA understands the need to create awareness of the benefits with the support of our VR training users. It is imperative that we come up with concrete results around training effectiveness (knowledge retention, performance and staff engagement) of which there are already positive applications in the medical, manufacturing and automotive industries. IATA also wants to encourage industry stakeholders who are exploring this technology to share their learnings and best practices with the rest of the community.

IATA will hold the first Aviation Virtual and Augmented Reality Summit (AVARS) on 5 and 6 June 2018 with the objective of creating more opportunities for the air transport industry to exchange ideas and share experience with the VR/AR community, other industries to explore use cases, trends and developments in VR/AR.