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Advancing Flight Deck Training: CNO Views Demo of ONR Global TechSolutions System at NAWCTSD

25 March 2021

From Courtesy Office of Naval Research

While touring the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) in Orlando, Florida, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday learned how a game-based training technology—sponsored by Office of Naval Research (ONR) Global TechSolutions—can help aircraft carrier flight deck crews keep their skills sharp.

NAWCTSD is the Navy's principal center for modeling, simulation and training-systems technologies. The command develops training systems for use throughout the Navy.

Courtney McNamara, a computer scientist and the Advanced Gaming Interactive Learning Environment (AGILE) team lead at NAWCTSD, demonstrated the ONR Global TechSolutions system to Gilday during his March 4 visit.

“Our Sailors—uniform and civilian—are the strength of our Navy and from what I’ve seen first-hand during this visit, our team is strong,” said Gilday. “The innovation, dedication and perseverance of our Sailors and their families impresses me every day. I could not be more proud of the work our Sailors are doing here, and am truly impressed by their personal response to remain mission ready.”

Called the Flight Deck Crew Refresher Training Expansion Packs, or TEP, the system is an expandable network of trainers mixed with a game-based, immersive 3D technology system that allows an individual, team, or multi-team training events.

Consistent training is vital for aircraft carrier flight deck crews, given the dangerous nature of their work. These crews help pilots land on a short slab of pitching steel, in the middle of the ocean, in a hectic environment of roaring engines, whipping propellers and high winds. Previously, flight deck crews could only train while on the job. TEP gives them the potential to practice anywhere.

TEP simulates real life with the aid of virtual environments. Even the flight patterns that occur during the simulations are based on real patterns conducted by actual pilots. The system can also simulate normal operations and emergency conditions—exposing deck crews to a wide array of real-world scenarios.

TEP is now part of Ready Relevant Learning for use at Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training A-Schools; is pier-side to the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) for crew training; and is in use at the Landing Signal Officer (LSO) Schoolhouse at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia.

In fact, it was an instructor at the LSO Schoolhouse who first came up with the idea for a 3D game-based aircraft carrier simulation, and reached out to TechSolutions for help.

TechSolutions—ONR Global's rapid-response science and technology program that develops prototype technologies to address problems voiced by Sailors and Marines—listened to the idea and found the right people to make it happen.

McNamara, who led the development of the technology, said, “It was an honor to demonstrate how the TEP system has evolved from a TechSolutions fleet submission and has now transitioned to address training needs for multiple communities and commands.”

ONR Global TechSolutions Director Jason Payne said, “TechSolutions exists to accept technology ideas from Sailors at the deck plate level, and Marines on the ground. For the CNO—the highest-ranking Sailor in the Navy—to come and see the technology solutions sparked by ideas from innovative warfighters under his command, is supremely satisfying for us all.”

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