Commercial aviation will require nearly 700,000 new maintenance technicians over the next 20 years, according to Boeing. Several years of training are required for each new tech, and specialists in complex parts like engines, composites and avionics need further training. Even so, techs stationed outside maintenance bases need help with complex repairs when aircraft are grounded at their airports. Sending expert engineers to assist with complex repairs is expensive, but also common as revenues lost by grounded jets are immense.
Modern technology can help with both initial training and supporting techs in the field. Accenture has developed applications that run on Microsoft’s HoloLens goggles that use virtual and augmented reality to assist with training and field support. The software has been used to help repair technicians at Schneider Electric, the global energy management and automation firm. “It’s mainstream now,” says Paresh Patel, Accenture director of Mobile and IoT. His firm is now working with Bombardier and Airbus to develop aircraft-repair versions and talking to interested airlines.
HoloLens is a head-mounted goggle that can project 3D images in front of the wearer and has speakers. In training, the goggles can project a 3D image of a complex part, for example an aircraft engine. The user can rotate the part or disassemble it to examine components and better understand how it works, anyplace or any time, in virtual reality. In short, the application gives students an opportunity to gain or reinforce knowledge without touching actual aircraft parts, activities that are limited in time and location and more expensive to perform.