Interactive virtual maintenance aids 787 engineer training

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Boeing has introduced extensive virtual technology to its 787 classroom in order to improve engineer training on the type.

"Customers told us they wanted more realism in the training environment," said Boeing director of training Chris Johnson-Pasqua, during a familiarisation event for Polish carrier LOT on 17 September.

The airframer's London Gatwick training facility provides engineers with a desktop on-screen replica interactive cockpit.

"It's the same software that the flightcrews use. Normally it's for flightcrews only but now it's available to engineers," says Boeing senior maintenance training instructor Mike Kirkbride.

This enables instructors to simulate technical problems while engineers interrogate the 787's central diagnostic systems as if in the real aircraft. "It's linked to all the tools a maintenance engineer will use," says Johnson-Pasqua.

Kirkbride adds: "We can introduce a certain fault, then tell them to find the fault and wait for them to fix it."

Separate screens complement the interactive cockpit with a full 3D virtual 787 model, which engineers can explore to find specific systems before conducting simulated repair procedures and running ground tests to check their success. The realism extends to fetching steps to access particular hatches, and waiting in real time for systems - such as the auxiliary power unit - to activate.

Kirkbride says the intuitive interactive capability gives engineers a better understanding of the aircraft's system behaviour.

LOT's 787 servicing agreements include a Rolls-Royce GoldCare package for the Trent 1000 engines, a spares pact with Air France-KLM's maintenance arm, and a deal with the UK's Monarch Aircraft Engineering to provide additional technical support.