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Mixed Reality – Disruptive Technology for Pilot Training


Neal Tomblyn, COO, AOA Associates

Substantial changes are afoot in the world of aviation. Even before the pandemic, both the aviation

industry and government organizations were under increasing cost and operational tempo pressures.

The pandemic exacerbated the challenges further. While the world is rapidly returning to a new normal,

the challenges facing aviation have not gone away.

Studies suggest that by 2029, there will be a shortage of 60,000 pilots globally. This will cause massive

challenges unless measures are taken now to grow the qualified pilot ranks. Added to this challenge is

the constant pressure to lower operational costs and increase pilot awareness and effectiveness through

new recurrent training measures.

For aviation to flourish, pilot training must become drastically more productive, scalable and cost-

effective. As a result, the aviation training community is looking to emerging virtual and mixed reality

technologies to enable this shift in less than a decade to meet the growing demand as well as solve

immediate challenges being faced.

Recent developments in head-mounted display (HMD) technology now show a major shift is underway.

For example, the US Navy and US Air Force is completely reworking their flight training curriculum to

leverage virtual and mixed reality devices to support basic pilot training. On the civil aviation side, the

European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has, for the first time, officially qualified a virtual reality-

based training solution for pilot training.

The capabilities, credibility, and efficacy of high-end virtual reality training solutions have begun to

increase massively – and we have only scratched the surface of the capabilities of extended reality

simulation technologies.

Special purpose, low-cost mixed reality-based devices are being built to support a wide variety of

core flight training tasks, including:

  • Aviation Aptitude Assessment

  • Cockpit Familiarization

  • Air Traffic Pattern Review

  • Checklist Practice

  • Emergency Procedures

  • Communication

  • Navigation

  • Sensor and Weapon Deployment

  • Formation and Tactical Flight

The main benefits of using mixed reality include:

  • Cost efficiencies,

  • Improved utilization of existing full-mission simulators,

  • Greater portability of devices to enable training at the point of need while saving travel costs,

  • Increased availability of training tools that empower trainees to achieve more reps and sets,


  • More engaging training that encourages task repetition until mastery is achieved, and

  • All-around better scalability.

Other uses for mixed reality in the aviation market that brings added value are in the areas of:

  • Pre-Flight Inspection

  • Aircraft Maintenance

  • Cabin Crew Training

  • In-Flight Entertainment and Services

At Angle of Attack Associates, Inc, (AoA), we are focused on bringing the most advanced pilot training

solutions available on the market to meet the current and future challenges of the aviation community.

Our leadership team has over 160 years of experience in flying commercially and military aircraft, pilot

training, flight operations, labor relations, and a wide range of advanced and disruptive technologies

focused on pilot training. Our experience has been honed through years of working at companies and

organizations such as Atlas Air Worldwide, Polar Air Cargo, Laker Airways, Inc., International

Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), L3Harris Corporation, Lockheed

Martin, and SAIC as well as flying for the US Air Force, US Navy and US Army.

Along with AOA’s leadership’s experience, we have at our disposal the ability to bring, as needed, a vast

amount of additional resources from the pilot training, flight operations and technology sectors of the

global aviation market to design, propose and deliver the right solutions to meet your needs and

overcome your challenges today and well into the future.

We look forward to meeting with you to talk about your challenges and how the experts at AOA can

assist you and be your thought leaders to bring the solutions you need to efficiently, productively and

competitively grow and operate your airline in this ever-changing market.

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