Among the many industries being revolutionized by technology, Aviation is one with huge potential. This is supported by the numerous Aviation Forums and Festivals arranged globally, to promote innovative business models and technologies, like virtual reality, among aerospace companies. This sector has already been making use of VR for a number of applications. We present a summary of existing and potential use cases of this versatile technology.
Virtual Prototyping for Aircrafts
Similar to the AEC industry, virtual prototyping has extremely beneficial applications for the aviation industry as well. Digital mock-ups can be designed in real-time according to different functionality criteria like ergonomics, aesthetics and latest technology updates. Different departments can collaborate during the design phase, e.g. engineers can examine hydraulic systems and aerodynamics while assembly workers can investigate the assembly space interactively. 3D design reviews with haptic controls can be conducted to take feedback from overseas designers, without having to incur travel expenses. The costs of constructing innumerable physical prototypes that need multiple costly, iterations can also be avoided along with saving time. Thus, the best possible user interface and ergonomic design is assured while shortening the learning curve for building future aircraft models and taking a huge step forward in lean manufacturing.
Engineers can virtually help with the repair and maintenance procedures through VR multi user collaborative software. Thus, amateurs or junior staff can be remotely assisted by senior technicians without them having to be at the location in person.The use of interactive VR gloves means more effective haptic feedback so the exact problems can be pointed to or the required actions can be shown virtually, converting unclear verbal instructions into physical and interactive ones.
Flight simulators have been a part of aviation training since a long time. However, with the advent of VR, this training reaches highly realistic levels at greater convenience. Instead of needing plenty of space for actual cockpits and large displays, VR flight simulators integrate an immersive and interactive experience with the help of a headset only. Along with the added benefit of being portable, these headsets amount to a total cost much lesser than that of traditional flight simulation training. Thus, pilots can gain more confidence during the training process from learning through mistakes in a very realistic environment where all learning scenarios can be simulated without limitations.
Cabin crew can also be trained using VR. This is especially useful for a range of stressful situations including provision of medical assistance to passengers, emergency landings and even highly traumatic circumstances like hijacking and terrorist attacks. An additional advantage is not having to keep an aircraft at standby for training purposes as VR creates exactly the same training environment more cost efficiently. Lufthansa Aviation Training has recently opened virtual reality hubs for providing safety-related training to flight attendants.
Airlines already have various audio as well as video entertainment options for passengers. However, VR provides an even more immersive alternative to spend time enjoyably. This can be utilized especially during long flight durations. VR headsets are also now easily available, with exceptional quality options being affordable for large companies. The profit potential accompanied with such high entertainment value means that VR is an ideal entertainment option. Some companies have already identified these benefits, e.g. the Australian Airline Qantas, and Alaska Airlines, which have been offering VR headsets and VR movies.
More recently, Inflight VR secured a huge investment of 4 million Euros to bring virtual reality in the mainstream for travel entertainment and British Airways also announced a trial for in-flight VR entertainment. Therefore, this is becoming a popular use case among airlines and might even become a norm in the near future.
VR can be used by aircraft manufacturers to showcase how the aircraft would appear and function by allowing customers to visualize the product before it is even built. Thus, sales can be conducted with advance payments without having to spend huge amounts on physical prototypes to attract customers.
Moreover, airlines can use VR for marketing as well. An example is how Lufthansa used VR to sell upgrades to first-class passengers just before boarding their flights. They demonstrated how comfortable and different the premium experience would be. The realistic immersive environment convinced viewers about the comforts and compelled them to try it for real. All Nippon Airways (ANA) also effectively marketed their new 777-300ER business class cabins through a virtual reality tour. Thus, similar techniques can be employed by airline companies during advertising promotions to market experiences.
Therefore, differentiation, with respect to product and marketing activities, is not only expected by today ́s passengers but also a requirement to gain success in the aerospace industry. Consequently, this sector is a budding field for the use of VR in various domains. It not only helps businesses save costs but also allows them to perform their operations more efficiently and effectively. In case you want to boost your aviation business using VR, feel free to contact us about our multi user collaborative VR software :)