WR-ALC virtual reality paint simulator enhances classroom experience

  • Published
  • By Joseph Mather
  • Robins Public Affairs

Aircraft painters in the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex can now hone their trade virtually.

Painters with the 588th Aircraft Maintenance Support Squadron Corrosion Control shop at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, are some of the first to do their refresher paint training in a virtual paint simulator.

Todd Lavender, 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group corrosion control process manager, said the paint classes are now using the virtual reality simulator to enhance the classroom experience.

“They are using the virtual reality paint training simulator to reinforce the skills they have learned in class,” he said. “The training so far seems to be going well.”

This started years ago when Todd Lavender wanted a better way to train aircraft painters, said Joe Jahnke, F3 Solutions vice president.

“He wanted to improve the paint products on the weapons systems, to reduce maintenance flow days, and to increase productivity on the back end as these aircraft went back in to service,” Jahnke said.

Lavender said the past simulator was used for three years and did not provide a realistic type of training.

“Our original paint training system was a two-dimensional setup,” he said. “You would paint on a screen, but it was not realistic enough for the painters, so they didn’t get as much benefit from that system as they should have.”

Jahnke said painters can now train on the simulator without having to paint on a actual aircraft.  

We are teaching in a virtual world where you will see a C-5 or Global Hawk aircraft and get hands-on painting experience before you actually go into the hangar to start painting on a real aircraft,” he said.

Derek Guantry, 558th AMXSS aircraft painter, said the class is really good and has helped him to hone his skills.

“I believe this class will benefit new painters coming in and will help the more experienced painters see where they need to improve,” he said. “This class is really good for our future.”

Lavender said the VR simulator is benefiting the sustainment mission.

“I think it is going great,” he said. “I believe this puts our painters head and shoulders above the rest. There is not another system like this in the DOD, and I hope to transition this to other depots.”

Lavender said units will have a quality product and an aircraft they are proud to show off with no paint defects.

“The warfighter is going to be benefited because we are going to be able to turn aircraft around quicker with less rework,” he said. “It will essentially be a factory finish when it comes back to them.”

Lavender said cross training painters will decrease downtime.

“My hope is for them to be able to qualify on different aircraft platforms, such as the C-130, C-5, C-17 and F-15 aircraft, so if we were short on painters we could bring these guys over to augment a paint crew in another facility,” he said.

Lavender said the future plan is to transition virtual reality training into an augmented reality type setting.

“This will allow the student to continue training in the hangar with the same helpers that were used in the classroom training portion,” he said. “They will use this while actually painting on the aircraft to further develop muscle memory and spray technique. This is important because it continuously reinforces what was learned in the classroom."