New Virtual Reality Parachute Training System for UK Airborne Forces

source:  UK MoD

The MOD has signed a contract for Virtual Reality Parachute Trainers for the Parachute Training School at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, that will help Armed Forces personnel hone their parachute jumping skills.

Under a contract worth over £300,000, Gloucestershire-based Pennant Training Systems Limited will design, manufacture, install and support the eight Virtual Reality Parachute Trainers.

The trainers will work with students hanging from a metal frame by standard issue parachute harnesses and wearing virtual reality goggles that recreate a jump in a range of virtual environments.

Instructors will be able to control conditions, including the ability to simulate rain, fog and snow, and choose the time of day – daytime, night-time and dusk. Wind speed and direction can also be adjusted to make the descent more difficult.

Parachute instructors will be able to simulate situations where a jump goes wrong, monitor a student’s performance, and provide feedback using digital video recordings.

Squadron Leader Alistair Hunt, the Airborne Forces Equipment Requirements Manager from the Brize Norton-based Airborne Delivery Wing, which is responsible for the Parachute Training School (PTS), said:

“The PTS has used virtual reality training for a number of years. However, the Virtual Reality Parachute Trainer proposed and demonstrated by Pennant has proven to be a step change in capability.

“The new system has a superior operating system and graphics so training within the virtual world will become significantly more realistic.

“Additionally, the system faithfully reproduces the variety of parachutes and equipment used at the school, a facility not previously available, which considerably enhances the training experience.

“Whilst the trainer will not replace live descents for the trainee parachutists, the opportunity to repeatedly practise drills and react to emergency situations in a safe and, importantly, realistic virtual environment, is invaluable and will greatly enhance training delivery and ultimately safety.”

Students will be able to jump in three environments, including a village, a wooded area and water, as well as practise jumping as individuals and as a ‘stick’ (when a group of parachutists exits the plane one after the other) within the same virtual environment.

The equipment is expected to be ready for training later this year.

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