IAC becomes first global MRO to benefit from new Virtual Reality paint training technology from AkzoNobel

April 25, 2024

AkzoNobel Aerospace Coatings has partnered with International Aerospace Coatings (IAC), a global leader in aircraft painting and aviation services, to integrate its Virtual Reality (VR) paint technology into the company’s future training programs. IAC has thus become the first MRO globally to integrate AkzoNobel’s innovative technology into its day-to-day operations.

The VR technology being used by IAC – which is mobile and delivered to IAC’s European headquarters in Shannon as part of AkzoNobel’s Aerofleet Training+ portfolio – immerses the individual painter in a virtual paint booth, complete with the aircraft part to be coated.

The system can be programmed with various paint parameters, such as the thickness of the coating required, overcoat times and tailored spray gun set-up. As the operator uses the spray gun, they can see whether too much or too little paint is used and look for inconsistencies in the way the coating is being applied. Their skills can be measured, including the distance, angle, and speed at which the gun is used. It shows where runs and sags occur, or where the wet film thickness is not sufficient, or the coverage inadequate to deliver the desired finish.

By effectively moving the physical spray booth into a VR classroom, IAC can eliminate waste, reduce costs and further improve safety, since no physical products are involved in the process. There are also no costs or time associated with cleaning the spray guns, or the additional VOCs released from the solvents required, or in providing the panels needed for wet paint training. With VR, customers can train more painters, more quickly, at a time that is convenient, and allow trainees to make mistakes without incurring high costs for scrap and rework.

John Mulqueen, VP Operations EMEA at IAC, says that the technology is not only relevant to new trainees, but also an essential way of further upskilling or refreshing existing painters: “For new starters, it provides an immersive learning experience, while for existing staff, it offers opportunities for upskilling and career development,” he explains.

“One of the major advantages is the efficiency of the VR system, providing engaging training without material waste. Having the flexibility of access to this technology on a daily basis enhances our training programs and motivates and empowers our staff.”

The introduction of the new VR technology will enable IAC to refocus its training programs; in the future, up to 70% of all new apprentice training can now be completed in the classroom, without a single drop of paint being sprayed.

The mobile nature of the VR technology enables IAC not only to train painters at its headquarters in Shannon, but also its other sites around the world: “Being able to transfer the equipment globally helps ensure consistent training standards across all of our facilities,” John adds.

“This efficiency not only benefits our training processes but also aligns with our commitment to sustainability by minimizing material usage and waste. Integrating the VR system into our training curriculum marks a significant step forward for our company in terms of safety, efficiency, and sustainability.”

Emmett Moran, Head of Operations says that this technology will help IAC upskill our existing painters, and allow our painters to trial new primer/paint systems without the use of actual materials, this is a game changer from a waste perspective, as we will have zero emissions and no waste generated from this program. We also intend to roll out a “Top Gun” competition globally for our painters to see who can achieve the highest score when painting a complex component.

Martin Carter, Area Sales Manager for UK & Ireland at AkzoNobel Aerospace Coatings says the integration of VR into IAC’s training regimen is an example of how AkzoNobel is supporting its customers with meaningful help: “Typically, when a customer asks for training, we must provide significant quantities of paint, much of which is wasted. 

“With VR as an integral part of our Aerofleet Training+ portfolio, we’re helping organisations and innovators like IAC to become significantly more efficient and sustainable in the future painting/repainting of aircraft for which they are responsible. It’s an excellent example of a true partnership at work and demonstrates our commitment to enhancing sustainability in practical and meaningful ways.”


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