Behind the virtual is an interview series in which we ask our clients and friends about their experiences, ideas and vision for virtual reality. This week we talk with Chantal Mulder-te Slaa from Transavia.
Chantal is purser, Flight Safety Instructor and developer at Transavia. On top of this, she’s also studying both Learning and Development within Organizations and Work- and Organizational psychology. This shows her passion for the area of tension between working and learning, and with that for virtual training. We inter-viewed her about their VR-pilot and her view on VR within Transavia.
Chantal Mulder-te Slaa
“I see so much potential in the future of VR, and the ability to measure the response."
Chantal has worked for Transavia since 2008. She flew very regularly until she made the choice to become an instructor in 2014. While she was on her second maternity leave, she was asked to explore the possibil-ities for VR within Transavia. "During my maternity leave, we rolled out the three-month pilot to let the organization get acquainted with VR. I applied for a role within the Cabin Crew Training team and also became developer. VR became part of my portfolio, and Jennifer and I manage the project together."
How the VR pilot started
Through colleagues at KLM, Chantal got referred to Infinity Labs. "The conversation with Infinity Labs was open and honest from the start. We could collaborate directly with the developer team as there was nothing in between. We gave plenty of feedback to make the experience as realistic as possible, the team was always thinking with us during the development process. I continue to get inspired by working with Infinity Labs, and I take that with me to keep motivating our own development team." The pilot was finalised and launched right after the summer of 2019. There are two active VR stations on Transavia’s training location accessible for training every day.
The response within Transavia
“The brain automatically connects the dots between the real-life experiences and virtual reality. ”
"The responses have been very positive. People are enthusiastic about it and find the training very realistic. This also means that they feel everything they feel when they’re on board of the plane. Their brain immediately connects the dots. You bring them straight into the cabin, without needing a whole Boeing 737 mock-up." There are a few beginner problems next to the enthusiasm, as some trainees have to get used to the hardware or occasionally get a little nauseous from the experience.
What VR scenario stuck with you most?
"At KLM, I once did a VR scenario with a starting fire with real avatars. People that were talking, a crying baby or someone coughing – it felt so real and that was a whole new experience for me. Doing the procedure itself in VR was no problem for me, I know the procedure. But the moment you add that human element, you need to do more than just a procedure. This immediately made me experience the dual role that I have.
I am there for the people and for their safety. What actions are required in that moment? The experience confronted me with this question. What happens is not just right or wrong, but you do have to evaluate your actions. What happens at that moment? What do you experience? Being aware of both these things is crucial. I know how I respond in stressful situations and that I have to take action. Being confronted with the human aspect confronted me with different emotions, and the actions that follow are also different. That corresponds with the person I am. However, I was surprised how a VR experience made me aware of this."
“I was surprised how a VR experience made me aware of how I respond in certain situations and what actions I choose."
Virtual Reality in the future
"I hope I’ll have a whole floor filled with VR stations to provide individual training for everyone. The instructor at the scene can directly provide feedback after the training is completed. We can easily point out what every individual needs and provide them with the fitting training possibilities. You should have an entire library with a very diverse range of training options. Then it’s easy to say: ‘You can improve in firefighting, let’s practice some scenario’s in VR.' ’’ She strives for even more: "Measuring the body would complete the picture. Think of measuring heart rate and the use of eye- and hand tracking. It enables easy and detailed feedback on someone doing the procedure right but seeing that someone doesn’t look at a certain overhead bin and hasn’t seen what’s in there, means that you are miss-ing crucial info to complete the procedure. Eye-tracking shows you what someone sees, hand tracking shows you that someone holds the fire extinguisher wrong which causes it to malfunction. Then, also measuring the heart and hormones provide you with information on what causes stress. You can train just as long until things improve. I see so much potential in the future of VR. Not just in the experience, but also in the ability to measure the response." Virtual training in the education program
The VR-pilot is not yet included in the yearly curriculum. Chantal aspires to integrate virtual training in the yearly recurring training, but also wants to use it in initials (on the job training) and for promotion purposes. "Ideally you get to know VR when you start at Transavia. After completing your first year, you continue virtual training to focus on personal development. You can easily sign in at the VR-station closest to you to individually practice, and after a year we check your progress. We discover that there’s another thing you need to work on, and so on. This enables you to provide a more customized training experience and it gives your employees freedom to shape their own training. It gives them a feeling of ownership when it comes to their own professional development. VR is new and easy to upscale; you can put it anywhere and apply it to anyone. Everyone has their own learning needs. As an organization, you need to provide a good library to fulfill everyone’s needs. I really hope we will see this happen within Transavia within the next 5 years."