Airbus is developing a virtual reality flight training tool designed to enable flexibility in training. To be available later this year, the initial tool will be aimed at the A320, said Remi Maillard, senior v-p of services for Airbus, with plans eventually to expand to other aircraft types. The tool, involving a headset and hand controls, is designed to complement flight simulator training, enabling pilots to repeat procedures where and when they want, said Airbus (Chalet CD23-35).
While not here at the show—Maillard noted the current circumstances surrounding the coronavirus discouraged the display of such interactive systems—Airbus hopes to showcase the system at a later event.
The virtual reality tool is part of a holistic approach that Airbus is planning to help bolster a flow of future pilots. This includes the development of a pilot cadet ab initio training program. In 2019, the manufacturer opened its first ab initio training centers. The initial two—in Mexico City and in France—are part of plans to develop 20 such facilities by 2025. These academies are designed to bring in new students up to the level of a pilot’s license. Candidates will receive ground school and flight training.
The centers augment Airbus’s 18 training centers aimed at training pilots on its line of aircraft. One of the largest is in Singapore, equipped with eight simulators for the A320 through the A380. Maillard emphasized a need to meet training needs in Asia-Pacific, where an estimated 220,000 pilots will be needed over the next 20 years.
The focus on training is part of a multifaceted effort for Airbus to build up its services portfolio, with ambitions to be a $10 billion provider in services in the next decade. The company’s services portfolio brought in $3.5 billion in 2018. It is growing in double-digit figures yearly as it builds up businesses surrounding MRO, flight operations support, and upgrades. Underlying this is a significant push toward digital offerings and managing predictability through access to data.