I/ITSEC 2016: Lakota maintainers go virtual
The National Guard is using this year’s I/ITSEC to display a new virtual maintenance trainer (VMT) it has rolled out, which teaches ground maintenance operations and procedures for the UH-72A Lakota helicopter.
A total of 13 linked work stations – which consists of two small and one large display – and one instructor operating station is now operational at the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site (WAATS) in Marana, Arizona.
The workstations allow students to familiarise and practice maintenance tasks before getting their hands dirty on the real aircraft.
First Sergeant James Morrison, the NCO in command of all instructors at WAATS Total Army School System, told Shephard the system was being used for a three-week-long UH-72A maintainers course at WAATS.
‘[The VMT] ensures that students fully understand the tasks before they leave the school house,’ Morrison explained. ‘And that they understand the system more in-depth than trying to put them out on a trainer and not get that level of observation that you get in the virtual world.’
The linked VMTs augments additional training aids at WAATS including a ‘hardware’ maintenance trainer – which at the moment is a real UH-72 aircraft - and classroom sessions that concentrate on the aircraft manuals.
With limited time that students can ‘hands-on’ with the hardware itself, owing to class-size and equipment availability, the VMTs ensure that students are always in front of an aircraft and a manual.
‘We are the first to use [the VMT] in a whole classroom concept,’ said Morrison, adding that non-networked VMTs had already been used by the Eastern Aviation Training Site based at Fort Eustis, Virginia.
A training curriculum – developed with Fort Eustis and completed in April 2013 – identified the need for training aids, and Fort Eustis’ existing use of VMTs inspired WAATS to follow suit. VMT specialist DiSTI was awarded a contract in 2015 for the programme and deliveries were completed earlier this year.
‘We wanted to leverage this technology and use it at a classroom level where we could assign tasks to each student, because each student works at different levels,’ he explained. ‘The instructor can assign tasks and he can also monitor progress in case someone is struggling.’
In order to participate in the UH-72 maintainers course, trainees have to already be at a ’15 Tango’ level, meaning they are qualified to maintain the UH-60 Black Hawk.
Unlike the UH-60, the Lakota is a civilian-registered aircraft and must be maintained to stringent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards.
For more from I/ITSEC 2016, see our dedicated news page.
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