A generic view of the VMT anatomy includes the following parts; the Student Displays, the Simulation Software, and the Instructor Control (or Operator) Station. The figure below highlights these pieces and their purpose. While DiSTI’s expertise is in the development and production of the content that drives the Student Station we can also facilitate the other components depending on their complexity.
DiSTI uses our very own patented process for the development of the virtual maintenance training environments that run on Student Displays. This process consists of DiSTI developed tools and workflows that streamline the development activity for creating virtual maintenance trainers. This design infrastructure automates the graphical art and engineering development activities for building and testing the 3D interactive virtual environment and components.
The VESDK (Virtual Environment Software Development Kit) process supports all of the common CAD data formats.
If CAD data is unavailable, DiSTI will create the models using standard 3D modeling techniques. In either case, the 3D geometry is combined with photographs of the equipment to produce a high fidelity, visually compelling, virtualized representation of each component that makes up the virtual environment. The presence of CAD data is not required and does not drastically affect the virtual environment development timeline.
Timelines vary based on environment complexity and desired training needs, but in general, DiSTI develops complete virtual environments of fighter aircraft in 18 to 24 months. For smaller items, such as an internal combustion engine, the timeline is generally 2 to 4 months.
CAD data for the device is preferred but not required. Access to the device is required for photographs and measurements. Comprehensive maintenance procedures and a listing of the desired learning objectives (i.e., what the environment will train) will drive what graphical elements DiSTI develops for the virtual environment. For instance, if none of the required maintenance procedures or learning objectives necessitates the need to open a particular door, then the mechanics of how to open the door, and the contents behind the door, never have to be modeled.
The following is a list of projects and an approximation of the overall number of procedures/tasks that the VMT can reproduce.
- F/A-18C/D SAMT: over 450
- F/A-18E IVEMT: over 600
- F-35 ASMT: approximately 1000 between tasks and the resulting subtasks
- DEMT Cummins 855: Four procedures
- Virtual Small Arms Trainer: Two procedures per weapon
DiSTI’s Virtual Environments include virtualized representations of all ground support equipment and specialty tools required by the device’s maintenance procedures. DiSTI has amassed a library of virtualized support equipment due to the diversity of the training platforms we have delivered. A large portion of this equipment is reusable and common for any maintenance based application (i.e., multi-meters, signal generators, oscilloscopes, reflectometers, etc.). DiSTI develops additional virtual support equipment unique to the training platform as needed.
The Virtual Environments created by DiSTI for use in the VMT applications are controllable by any type of Instructor Operator Station (see Anatomy of a VMT diagram). The following listing correlates our VMT solution and the associated developer of the IOS.
- F/A-18C/D SAMT: IOS provided by Simtech Services
- F/A-18E/F IVEMT: IOS provided by Boeing
- F-35 ASMT: IOS provided by AAI Corporation
DiSTI’s Virtual Environments are graphical software objects built with runtime controllable properties accessible to other software frameworks, therefore any simulation software environment can be connected.
Upgrades to the VMT are a relatively simple matter due to the modular nature of the system design. New components are graphically modeled for the environment, along with any corresponding interface changes with the system model (if applicable), and the results are published into a new software build. The upgraded trainer has the option to operate in multiple modes. For example, on the F/A-18C SAMT, a new radar unit was phased into use on the fleet aircraft. The updated trainer configuration offers both radar units. The instructor can configure the trainer to initialize with either the old unit or the new unit to facilitate the appropriate training.
DiSTI’s Virtual Environments provide and extremely low technical risk solution for development of the VMT. The technology and process to create these environments has been refined over the last eight years. It is a proven, cost effective, solution to rapidly develop a VMT.
Since VMT’s, produced by DiSTI, are software applications based on C++ and OpenGL, they are uniquely immune to the parts obsolescence issues prevalent on hardware based maintenance systems.
Publicly disclosed information regarding the performance of DiSTI and the training environments we produce follow:
- DiSTI’s was nominated for the Boeing Atlas Award in 2011; DiSTI was one of only 68 companies out of 17,000 Boeing suppliers to receive a nomination.
- “DiSTI was very patient, very supportive, and understanding of our requirements and subsequently produced an awesome trainer.” – Dan Albrecht, Training Manager, Oshkosh Corporation.
- “This is hugely significant for all services because we are getting our maintainers prepped for when we are fully stood-up for F-35 training in the near future. The classes are another exciting step forward in the 2012 execution year for F-35 training.” – Col. Andrew Toth, 33rd FW Commander regarding the F-35 ASMT capability at Eglin AFB (Maj. Karen Roganov, “F-35 Training Center Begins Formal Training”, The Eglin Dispatch, April 20 2012)
DiSTI would be pleased to schedule a live demonstration of our VMT applications. Please visit our contact us
- The Maintenance Training brochure provides an encapsulated overview of our Maintenance Training offering. Download it here
- DiSTI’s Corporate Overview Video briefly covers some of DiSTI’s success in the development of Virtual Maintenance Training devices. The video can be viewed here
- DiSTI has other documentation that can be viewed upon request, depending on whether the material is not confidential. One recent case was the start of the F-35 Maintenance Training using the AAI delivered ASMT that was covered in the Eglin Dispatch. This article can be read here