Using virtual reality technology for aircraft visual inspection training: Presence and comparison studies

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The aircraft maintenance industry is a complex system consisting of several interrelated human and machine components. Recognizing this, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has pursued human factors related research. In the maintenance arena the research has focused on the aircraft inspection process and the aircraft inspector. Training has been identified as the primary intervention strategy to improve the quality and reliability of aircraft inspection. If training is to be successful, it is critical that we provide aircraft inspectors with appropriate training tools and environment. In response to this need, the paper outlines the development of a virtual reality (VR) system for aircraft inspection training. VR has generated much excitement but little formal proof that it is useful. However, since VR interfaces are difficult and expensive to build, the computer graphics community needs to be able to predict which applications will benefit from VR. To address this important issue, this research measured the degree of immersion and presence felt by subjects in a virtual environment simulator. Specifically, it conducted two controlled studies using the VR system developed for visual inspection task of an aft-cargo bay at the VR Lab of Clemson University. Beyond assembling the visual inspection virtual environment, a significant goal of this project was to explore subjective presence as it affects task performance. The results of this study indicated that the system scored high on the issues related to the degree of presence felt by the subjects. As a next logical step, this study, then, compared VR to an existing PC-based aircraft inspection simulator. The results showed that the VR system was better and preferred over the PC-based training tool. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.




Vora, J., Nair, S., Gramopadhye, A. K., Duchowski, A. T., Melloy, B. J., & Kanki, B. (2002). Using virtual reality technology for aircraft visual inspection training: Presence and comparison studies. Applied Ergonomics, 33(6), 559–570.

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