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Virtual Engine Run-Up: a 3D engine for enhanced training

Virtual Engine Run-Up

A 3D engine for enhanced training

The fruit of a partnership between AFI KLM E&M and Airbus, “Virtual Engine Run-Up” is an innovative 3D model used for training operatives in post-maintenance engine starts. This flexible and efficient tool provides an alternative to training modules carried out on flight simulators.

“Until now it was always difficult to organize training for technicians and mechanics in how to bring engines back online after maintenance, as these sessions needed to be carried out on flight simulators – which are reserved for priority use by pilots. You’d have to find a time slot when the simulator could be mobilized for two consecutive days, but that also suited the various schedules of all the participants.”

Benoit Boudin

Project Manager at the AFI KLM E&M Innovation and Development center

Given this lack of flexibility, AFI KLM E&M decided to equip itself with a dedicated training suite and a tool capable of reproducing the cockpit environment and simulating engine restarts and breakdowns. The first Virtual Engine Run-Up was launched in 2020, having been developed in partnership with Airbus. This specialist simulator is now used for all engines in the A320 family, as well as for the A350 since 2022.


Training in a real-world setting

In practical terms, the tool enables trainees wearing VR headsets to visualize a cockpit in an immersive 3D environment, and to carry out simulated start-up tests. Over two days, the trainees alternate between theory and practice, under the attentive supervision of an instructor tracking their progress in real time. The flight simulator still comes into use, but only at the end of the module.

Multiple benefits

With this immersive tool, AFI KLM E&M and Airbus have succeeded in achieving an enhanced level of simulation, transporting the participants into an ultra-realistic environment. The results speak for themselves:

“Our goal is to equip trainees with the instinctive practices and procedural fluency they’ll apply in normal situations, as well as in the event of an issue or breakdown – and it works! Another significant advantage of the suite is that it makes organizing training modules much more straightforward: Our dedicated suite means we’re more able to accommodate training needs, which are constantly on the rise. The reduced time spent practicing on the simulator also generates significant economic gains, since one hour of flight simulation costs around $400.”

Benoit Boudin

Project Manager at the AFI KLM E&M Innovation and Development center

What’s next?

AFI KLM E&M is constantly on the lookout for ways to improve its training suite and VR tool. Thanks to feedback from the trainees, the virtual reality headsets have already been upgraded to offer improved ocular comfort, and consequently enhanced efficiency. Next on the agenda is extending the application to cover A220 engines, and reducing the need to use the flight simulator. Final goal: having the most efficient VR tool, capable to replace the FFS session. And soon, this solution will even be deployable as a mobile training unit, complete with trainer, computer kit and VR headsets.