Technology

Typhoons To Ventilators: Military Tech Experts Help NHS

BAE Systems is helping develop training materials for those building the newly approved Penlon ventilator. 

A virtual reality expert who normally develops Typhoon simulation training for the RAF is now working on training materials for life-saving ventilators going to the nation’s hospitals.

In his day job Charles Jackson helps fighter pilots develop vital skills, his current role is no less vital. He is now making instructional videos on how to test ventilators before they are handed to the NHS.

Charles is working for BAE Systems as part of VentilatorChallengeUK, a consortium of companies rapidly producing ventilators in the fight against Covid-19.

He uses ‘Unreal Engine’, an advanced real-time 3D creation platform - found in many popular video games - to develop the videos.

They will train people how to complete the thorough factory acceptance testing of each ventilator.

Charles explained: "We’ve been looking at the graphics capability of cutting edge video game engines for a while to understand how they could be used to augment our training and simulation capability.

“Given the urgency for new ventilators, we’ve been able to quickly start producing an instructional video combining live video of the procedures with Unreal Engine graphics," he added.

"We hope this will prepare the testers being recruited so that when they do their formal training, they will already be familiar with the process and we will be able to get more people trained up more quickly to approve equipment and ultimately get it where it is needed the most."

BAE Systems is helping to make training materials for those creating the Penlon ventilator which has just been approved by the  Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Despite the team being made up of experienced engineers from sectors accustomed to high precision manufacturing, a number will be developing ventilators for the very first time, BAE said.

Last week, the government confirmed an order for 15,000 more ventilators, after the first newly-adapted design was given regulatory approval.

BAE Typhoon synthetic training (Picture: BAE Systems).