Cabin fire VR puts tourism students to the test

Activate Learning is an education and training group based in Oxford. It runs schools, further education colleges and work-based training across Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

Three of their colleges offer specialised courses in travel and tourism during which students traditionally visit holiday sites and airports to experience realistic scenarios. These visits require a significant number of resources to organise. They must also ensure emergency procedure and health and safety training is delivered.

In particular, students preparing for cabin crew or associated roles struggle to gain access to aircraft fuselages for onboard fire safety training, often competing with other airline cabin crew and flight staff. As such, students often have to watch videos as part of theoretical training.

Activate Learning wanted to give these students more than a passive learning experience to better prepare them to fight fires in realistic scenarios.


The Virtual Reality (VR) Aircraft Cabin Fire-Fighting simulation is designed to invigorate classroom learning while maintaining a safe, economical and reusable environment. An Immediate Action Drill exercise is simulated through the VR Solution.

The solution is delivered on a tethered Vive VR headset with two controllers. This offers learners the chance to practise putting out a fire in a plane toilet, whilst following the correct communication protocols and fire-fighting procedures.

The headset links to a projector so the class can also observe what the student in the VR is experiencing – creating a collective learning experience.


The VR simulation offers a balanced cost alternative to the existing training which requires a combination of expensive airport-based training rigs and basic classroom-based learning. In offering the student multiple attempts to combat fire in a realistically stressful environment, the VR training has proven to outperform both previous methods of training.

Learning retention rates are high, with students achieving a 67% retention rate after an average of 105 days. Students surveyed became highly motivated and began investing higher levels of time and energy into the course as a whole.

The marketing advantages of such an effective 21st century learning tool are now firmly on Activate Learning management’s radar for future training.

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