ANA Will Roll Out Virtual Reality Staff Training

ANA is planning to roll out a unique form of training for its aircraft maintenance crews and cabin team members, using virtual reality. Virtual reality (known as VR) has become very impressive in recent years thanks to big companies like Facebook investing in the space, although its uptake within the aviation industry has, so far, been limited to entertainment.

ANA 777
ANA is not only innovating with its fleet but also upgrading its training methods. Photo: Getty

What are the details?

All Nippon Airways (ANA), a major flag carrier of Japan, has started a trial of innovative new VR technology to train not only its cabin crews but maintenance team members as well. The headsets and controls will allow those undergoing training to not only look at an aircraft in a fully released space, but also interact with virtual objects thanks to controllers that track each finger.

A trainee in the real world using the VR training rig. Photo: ANA

The programs will specifically guide users through a narrative simulation, following on-screen instructions to perform a range of different actions. Some of these narrative simulations will replicate real-life workplace and flying accidents and show how to react in them (much like how pilots do with their own simulations).

If a trainee makes a mistake and compromises the safety of the aircraft, they will be instantly alerted and told exactly what step they missed. Ideally, these simulated computer environments will allow trainees to mess around and be reprimanded for mistakes without actually causing any real problems. This will allow them to work in the real world with confidence.

“Safety has always been a top priority for ANA, and incorporating the latest VR technology into our training procedures is the next step in creating a safer environment for our employees,” said Tatsuhiko Mitsukura, Executive Vice President of ANA in a press release. “Time and time again, we have embraced advanced technology to train our employees because we believe that it is important to remain at the cutting edge when it comes to safety.” 

Through the eyes of someone using the program. Photo: ANA

“The VR Safety Training System is part of ANA’s fundamental commitment to providing safe, quality and comfortable air travel. Innovation is a fundamental part of ANA’s outlook, and the airline will continue to implement the latest technological advancements to improve every aspect of the air travel experience.”ANA press release

Likely ANA is the first of many airlines to offer this training for their cabin crew, and we can’t wait to see the product rolled out. It is not the first time that an airline has experimented with virtual reality, with airlines like British Airways trialing virtual reality entertainment on New York flights. Although so far the product has only been limited to first-class passengers.

Paris Air Show VR
Yours truly using VR at the Paris Air Show last year. Photo: Simple Flying

ANA also recently placed an order for 20 more Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft (15 orders and 5 options that they may activate in the future), to expand its fleet and slowly replace older aircraft like the Boeing 777.

What do you think? Do you think that VR will be popular throughout the industry? Let us know in the comments.