A portion of the training for new helicopter loadmasters at RNZAF Base Ohakea involves using virtual reality headsets. The images are representations of the insides of RNZAF NH90 or A109 helicopters.

The purpose is so loadmasters can learn certain procedures in a safe environment before practicing them in real life, Flight Sergeant (F/S) Adrian Morgan said.

“It reduces the amount of training needed to be done in a real aircraft, so it makes it safer as well as a little bit cheaper.”

The students find it easy to learn in virtual reality because they have people close by and it’s easy to talk with them, he said.

“The instructors say they are definitely getting a better product out of the training, by using it.”

The next step with the technology is to set up a formal system of linking the loadmaster trainer with the A109 simulator, F/S Morgan said.

“By having the A109 simulator and the HLM sim in the same building, we have been able to prove that we can do it.

“It will allow the loadmasters and the pilots to do training together, which helps with communication between the crew.”

Corporal (CPL) Jenn Harley has recently completed her virtual reality training for her helicopter loadmaster qualifications.

“When you put the goggles on you can see the training areas of Ohakea and Raumai. We typically start at Raumai and you look out and see the coast and all the paddocks and look down and see trees, as well as inside the helicopter.”

The procedural trainer was a great tool to use in the initial loadmaster training as it was a good medium between going flying and practicing in the classroom, CPL Harley said.

“It’s where we perfect our procedural knowledge, which is our basic patter and the process of how to do things before we learn in the helicopter.

“In the simulation we can pause to get teaching points or clarify something we’re not sure of – that way I can get the information without the helicopter burning fuel.”

Published in Air Force News, Issue 227

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