Virgin Atlantic’s new 787 Dreamliner, Birthday Girl, is an enlightened aviation development in more ways than one.

Beyond the elegant lines of its design, and the clever use of light to highlight the Birthday Girl’s most flattering passenger experience features, Virgin Atlantic’s newest 787 comes complete with her own high-tech augmented reality tour.

Visitors to the dedicated site can click through Birthday Girl’s new cabin interior, stop at any point along the way and take a look around. Augmented reality allows potential Virgin Atlantic customers to see the whole interior of the aircraft, a true-to-life peek at what they’ll enjoy inflight, before booking their ticket.

But, as the airline explains, this augmented reality application was originally designed for cabin crew training.

“We use that as a tour for crew training, and also internal training, which also allows us to visit the aircraft virtually, without stepping on the aircraft,” says Nik Lusardi, Design Manager at Virgin Atlantic. “It’s actually a tool we use internally anyway. It’s really good from a training perspective because it gives our crew, that are going to be training in the classroom, a real perspective of the aircraft before they even step onboard.”

By familiarizing crew with the aircraft using the augmented reality application, Virgin Atlantic ensures that crew understand the cabin space, where everything is onboard, and how they will interact with passengers. It also works around the airline’s need to keep the fleet flying, generating revenue, which poses a challenge to the airline’s logistics for scheduled training.

“[The aircraft are] never quite where you expect them to be,” says Lusardi. “They’re always in the air. We work our aircraft, so they always keep flying. [Crew] may be used to flying with other aircraft types, but to have that tool at our disposal means that we haven’t got to put them on [the aircraft] first. They don’t have to go to a hangar to walk around the aircraft. It does form a big part of what we do daily, from a training perspective.”

By publishing this training tool on the web, and allowing potential passengers to enjoy the same preview benefits as its crew, Virgin Atlantic gets the augmented reality Birthday Girl to do double duty for the marketing department. Without the overtime.

Photo Credit: The "Birthday Girl" Bar. Virgin Atlantic