RAF Brize Norton
VRPT Programme

Virtual Reality Parachute Trainer

Multi-user (x8 man) Parachute Training System Including Malfunctions.

The original specification was primarily for malfunctions education, and the procedural training of students for recognition and recovery of total or partial canopy failures. Maelstrom’s responsibilities included the design and implementation of the hardware with the suspended harness solution to phase 1 prototype approval, as well as the entire software production and integration.

The system was designed to fit within the existing training programmes, the software offers the choice of both RAF Weston-on-the-Green or Studland Bay drop-zones, and supports the training of up to 18 malfunctions on 6 different canopy types – including both static line and freefall variants. In addition to these requirements, the simulation also includes a host of additional features making it a significant advance on previous simulators of this type. Features include; interchangeable multi-harness support, instructor control station with live input views from each student, hand and finger gesture recognition, unrecoverable and recoverable malfunctions on all canopy types,  unique suspended harness frame controlled by toggles to give realistic motion and Multi-User 8 man shared environment.

Instructor Station: 
This is the main control interface for the virtual parachute training system. From here the instructor can choose to load from a selection of pre-set scenarios covering a range of available canopy types. It is also possible to re-configure  the scenarios so that some of the student can be despatched from a different aircraft at a different altitude yet all still remain in the same environment.

Each of the live student views are replicated on the 8 small LCD monitors either side of the instructors main control screens. This allows the instructor to see what the students see and monitor reactions to malfunctions and ensure students are performing the correct control checks. In addition to this the system monitors the students from the moment they are despatched, and continues to so so until they land.

Trainee Station:
Maelstrom were responsible for the design of the prototype unit including the unique suspended gimble frame, this was controlled by the users toggles through the use of pulleys to create the correct tensions when steering their virtual parachute. Other unique features include hand and  finger sensors which were used to detect hand positions and also gestures like grasp and release.

During their virtual parachute jump users would be expected to carry out certain procedures with their hands, the software recognises these gestures for e.g. grasping their toggles, or releasing their toggles and grabbing their release handle for their PEL or even during free fall to let out their drogue or pilot chute. All of these gestures are recorded and saved into each students report for later evaluation.

Canopy Types:
LLP – Static Line
GQ360 – Static Line
BT80 – Static Line & Freefall
LPS – Freefall
BT533 – Freefall

No Canopy, Steaming Malfunction, Line Over, Broken Steering Line, Steering Line Restriction, Broken Rigging Line, Holes / Torn Canopy, Malformed Canopy, High Twists, Low Twists, Stuck Slider (unrecoverable), Stuck Slider (Recoverable), Bag Lock, Collapsed Drogue, Broken Bridle Line, Drogue and Bag above Head.

The video below shows the BBC report on the launch of the system.