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ForgeFX Bets On VR For Industrial Training Simulations

Training to deice a C130 on an aircraft deicing training simulator

Passionate about building interactive 3D training SIMS utilizing video game technology, ForgeFX Simulations is making industrial training simulations using Virtual Reality.

“As virtual reality has matured in the past several years, bypassing many old problems like insufficient computing power, prohibitive costs, and even the sheer weight of the hardware, ForgeFX made a bet that VR would be the next evolution of their simulators,” said president and co-founder Greg Meyers in an interview to TechRepublic. “We were doing our best to put you in the environment, but it just always fell short," Meyers added.

At the 2016 Silicon Valley Virtual Reality (SVVR) Conference & Expo, held late April, ForgeFX showcased the simulation for training airport workers on how to deice the wing of a plane.

ForgeFX developed this aircraft deicing simulator for Global Ground Support, a leading manufacturer of airport ground support equipment used both commercially and by the military.

Building upon the success of this training simulator, a next-generation version is under development and at early beta stages of deployment. The next-generation aircraft deicing simulator includes many upgrades and new features, including support for the Oculus Rift virtual reality platform. 

Aircraft Deicing Training Simulator with Support for Oculus Rift VR platform

Global Ground’s mission is to provide the best in equipment and ground support to get your flight in the air on time.

The Global Ground Support Aircraft Deicing Simulator is a 3D training simulation for airport ground support equipment operators, allowing operators to be trained, tested, and assessed on all aspects of aircraft deicing in a safe, risk-free, and low cost environment.

The training simulation teaches equipment operators year-round to use Global Ground’s Support deicers quickly, with more flexibility and at a lower cost than traditional training. Of course, no real-world equipment is taken off the line and no expensive consumables, such as fuel, oil and deicing fluids, are required for simulation-based training.

Training Deicer Operators

When planes take off in stormy weather, they must be properly deiced to reduce the risk of accidents. In addition, deicing operators must be extremely careful when deicing planes, since any collision between deicing equipment and a plane is costly and can cause flight delays.

With stakes as high as these, training highly competent deicing operators is crucial. However, relying solely on traditional training can be expensive and difficult, requiring specific weather conditions and the use of costly consumables.

Simulator Features and Capabilities

The software simulates Global Ground Support’s 2200 TEAP deicer. The software, coupled with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) hardware, which includes joysticks, pedals, and a wide-screen display, gives the user a first-person perspective of an operator sitting within the cab of the real-world deicer. The simulation includes a true-to-life real-time fluid rendering system, accurately representing the nozzle and spray dynamics, allowing operators to acquire the necessary finesse to expertly operate the deicer.

Training simulation sessions begin by selecting the type of aircraft to be deiced and parameters, including the time of day, wind conditions, temperature, and the type of precipitation present in the environment. The operator has full control over the deicer’s boom arm, cab rotation, truck location, nozzle settings, fluid selection, spray selection and lights.

Performance Tracking and Reporting

The simulation tracks the performance of users, recording their scores for review by instructors. Users are scored on their performance, including amount of contaminant removed, time taken, gallons of fluid used, no-spray area violations, and aircraft collisions.

Simulation-based training for a B1 aircraft

“VR isn't always an immediate sell,” Meyers said, “but businesses understand the idea of mitigating risk and saving money.”