Technology from computer games and Formula 1 racing are helping aircraft engineers in a new £2.3m training centre on the Fylde.
BAE Systems has opened a new cockpit development and training facility at its Warton site.
The Training and Simulation Integration Facility uses simulation equipment for a range of aircraft types including the Warton-made Hawk and Typhoon as well as future concept aircraft.
The centre has been developed in collaboration with Formula 1 racing experts Williams Advanced Engineering who helped design a next-generation training cockpit which harnesses advanced F1 technologies and engineering know-how.
Inside a twin-seat cockpit simulator can be reconfigured to resemble a range of training and fast jet cockpit environments and allows users to trial the latest in human machine interfaces.
And the centre has taken on board cutting edge computer developments born from gaming technologies, including commercially available interactive headsets and gloves.
It has an augmented reality environment which uses virtual and augmented reality technology to create a fully immersive 3D environment.
This allows engineers and pilots to enhance their aircraft maintenance and training skills in complex environments.
It also has a classroom of the future featuring wall to wall interactive displays allowing trainees to ‘virtually’ tour the body of an aircraft using a number of synthetic training aids which helps reduce the reliance on expensive physical tools and speeds up learning.
A Networked Synthetic Environment with a suite of high-speed desktop simulators for multiple aircraft types allows pilots and engineers to train together and simulate a range of realistic mission training scenarios.
Steve Timms, managing director, Defence Information, Training & Services at BAE Systems, said: “This new facility represents a fresh blueprint for the future training of pilots and engineers.
“Such an innovative application of virtual reality and simulation technologies offers a wealth of advanced, more affordable techniques for the training of teams on the maintenance and design of advanced fast jets – and this is just the beginning of possible applications for that technology in the sector.”
Craig Wilson, managing director for Williams Advanced Engineering, added: “TSIF represents innovation through collaboration – with virtual reality and simulation technology being used.
“At Williams Advanced Engineering, we are driving innovation with world-class engineering solutions and technology transferred from our origins in Formula One, where simulation and training are of the utmost importance.
“We are delighted to be working with BAE Systems on this project having developed a strong relationship based on shared objectives.
“As technology improves and becomes more accessible it’s only natural for training techniques to evolve also, and those training in this facility will do so having access to cutting-edge toolsets.”
The new centre is part of a wider investment in training from BAE Systems which will see the company invest more than £10M at its Warton site.
A new Mission Systems Integration Facility is planned to open in 2017 for future concept aircraft testing and evaluation, on the TSIF site.