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C4iSR: Air

USAF develops virtual maintenance trainer to better prepare airmen

12 February 2018

The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is developing a maintenance training system that will place students in a virtual environment enabling them to get more time with an aircraft prior to working on a real jet.

The Maintenance Training Based on Adaptive Game-based Environmental Using a Pedagogic Interpretation Engine (MAGPIE ) will help instructors track airmen as they progress through the virtual trainer, address mistakes in real time and provide immediate feedback to students, and allow trainers to handle an entire class as opposed to working with students one-on-one.

Seen here is a screen image of an F-15E from AFRL’s MAGPIE. AFRL and Charles River Analytics are developing the virtual trainer for use in school house maintenance course. (Charles River Analytics)Seen here is a screen image of an F-15E from AFRL’s MAGPIE. AFRL and Charles River Analytics are developing the virtual trainer for use in school house maintenance course. (Charles River Analytics)

MAGPIE will also provide students with the most recent updates to aircraft as well as the newest jets entering the fleet without having to wait for the actual planes to become available.

Course designers and instructors can update procedures, so the student training is not locked into a specific avionics procedure, Lieutenant Mitchell Lichtenwald, programme manager in 7-11th Human Performance Wing and programme manager for the MAGPIE Phase 3 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) effort, told Jane’s .

The US Air Force (USAF) does not have a system that can provide this type of learning environment, he noted.

“We are able to put students in a virtual environment and have an intelligent tutoring tool that instructors can use,” Lt Lichtenwald said.

AFRL is about one year into the Phase 3 effort. Once that is complete, the plan is to transition MAGPIE to the school house at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

MAGPIE is currently using an F-15E fighter’s avionics as the model. Lt Lichtenwald said it could be possible, in the future, to expand the software to include other aircraft.

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