Date of Award

Spring 2024

Access Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Aviation


College of Aviation

Committee Chair

Steven Hampton

First Committee Member

Kristy Kiernan

Second Committee Member

Jennifer Thropp

Third Committee Member

Stephanie Fussell

College Dean

Alan J. Stolzer


This study examined the effectiveness of using virtual reality training environments for procedural training in fourth-generation airliners. Its goal was to assess whether the training outcomes from a recurrent training course for FAA certificated Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) technicians, which used a Full Flight Simulator (FFS) to deliver and assess training, differed from the same training delivered using a Virtual Reality (VR) device.

The study used an experimental design with three groups and two within-group measures of training effectiveness. The control group followed the current training program and was assessed in the FFS, while the second group was trained using a VR device and was subsequently assessed in the FFS. A third group was formed as a subgroup of the second group, and it contained subjects who had prior VR experience. Training effectiveness was assessed using a modified Global Evaluative Assessment of Robotic Skills (GEARS) tool that measured cognitive and psychomotor aspects of learning along with the time to successful task completion.

The population sampled for the study were all FAA certificated A&P technicians who were engine-run qualified; a total sample of 100 was used. Ages ranged from 22 to 72 years old, with a mean age among all groups of 40.37 ( SD = 11.50). Four out of 100 participants were female. A&P experience ranged from 1 to 42 years, with a mean experience among all groups of 14.79 years ( SD = 10.34). Engine-run experience ranged from 0 to 35 years, with a mean experience among all groups of 9.01 years ( SD = 8.02).

The hypothesis tested was that there is no difference in performance between the three groups. A MANCOVA analysis was performed using the GEARS scores and Time to Completion as variables. There was no significant difference in training effectiveness (GEARS Total Score and Time) based on Training Group (Control, VR, and VR with Experience), F(4,190) = 1.307, p = .269; Wilk’s lambda = .946, partial eta squared = .027, and the null hypothesis was retained. Similar results were returned using individually the cognitive and psychomotor elements of the GEARS assessment. Enginerun Experience was significant in influencing both GEARS Psychomotor Score, F(1, 95) = 5.732, p = .019 and in influencing Time to task completion, F(1, 95) = 9.346, p = .003. Engine run experience was a significant covariate in this study, while overall A&P experience was not.

The VR system, as evaluated, was found to provide task performance that is equivalent to that of the traditional training method that used the FFS. Recommendations for future research and ongoing application of the specific experimental methodology are provided.