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Augmented Reality provides a unique solution for aviation

By Geof Wheelwright on September 16, 2017

Augmented reality applications are starting to take flight in the aviation industry. In our previous blog, world-renowned helicopter pilot Chuck Aaron explained how he can use it to service his BP 105 helicopter.

Chuck Aaron's demonstration of using Atheer AiR Enterprise to do pre-flight checks and servicing of his helicopter offered just a taste of how AR can be used in aviation.

An AR scenario for aviation

To get a more detailed idea of how AR could be used in aviation, consider this scenario where an aircraft mechanic is repairing a custom jet engine.

The mechanic is on the ground with a plane in Boston that's in need of engineer servicing, and she is using AR technology (particularly "see what I see" video conferencing features) on the repair with an engineer in San Jose who worked on the original design of the engine.

The engineer can use smart glasses to electronically "circle" a part that needs attention (shown on the screen of the smart glasses so that both the mechanic and the remotely-connected engineer).

The engineer in San Jose can provide more detailed guidance to the mechanic in Boston, getting her to look more closely at various aspects of the aircraft part that she is working on - and provide real-time feedback to the mechanic on the next steps that she needs to take.

Many challenges solved at once

This one simple scenario encompasses solutions to a number of the challenges facing the aviation industry by:

  • Allowing the engineer in San Jose to deliver detailed, contextual guidance that allows him to see and interact with the malfunctioning aircraft part, so that he is able to scale the delivery of his highly-valued skills to the mechanic in Boston (without having to travel in-person to do so). This could be just one element of a strategy to help mitigate the increasing shortage of skilled MRO staff by allowing the time of existing staff to be used most effectively.
  • Using an engineer in San Jose to troubleshoot an MRO issue in Boston, which helps provide national and international scale for the engineer's employer.
  • Offering the mechanic in Boston immediate access to the latest task checklists (for working on the troublesome part) - and any existing training videos - directly via her smart glasses before initiating the video conference call to the engineer in . This ensures that valuable aviation engineer time is only sought when other support avenues have been exhausted.
  • Getting the right information to the right place - quickly and easily. Using smart glasses (and either voice, gestures or head movements to access the information and remote experts she needs), the mechanic is safely able to get at all the information she needs without having to remove work gloves, move away from the part she is working with or otherwise be distracted from the task at hand.

Just the beginning

This scenario is just one of many ways in which AR technology can be used by aviation companies. For more information on how AR can be used to make a difference in aviation, download our free eBook : Augmented Reality for the Aviation Industry.

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