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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

RFID of Aircraft Parts Coming

The use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) in the airline industry will get a start with the expected availability of aerospace-standard RFID tags by the end of the year. “That’s what we believe. If it comes to fruition, we’ll be pleased,” said Daryl Remily, deputy program manager of the Boeing RFID program. Remily, speaking Monday to the Avionics Maintenance Conference in Phoenix, said RFID transponders meeting the proposed Aerospace Standard 5678, though not available today, are poised to enter the market. Boeing announced in 2005 that it would use RFID tracking of certain components on the new 787 Dreamliner. [Supporting Boeing’s position, a Finnish company, Confidex, and the Sun Microsystems Test Lab in March said that Confidex’s Ironside RFID tag had passed testing requirements for the AS5678 specification.] Among conditions of the AS5678 standard, Remily said, are that RFID tags comply with Air Transport Association SPEC 2000, Chapter 9, an e-business standard, comply with an FAA policy authorizing the use of passive RFID tags, dated May 13, 2005, and satisfy environmental tests per DO 160E. Both Boeing and Airbus have RFID programs aimed at myriad applications for parts and payload tracking. Boeing has tested RFID tags with FedEx and Delta, and found them resistant to both environmental conditions and electromagnetic interference. Airbus conducted a RFID focus group in March 2006 in Toulouse, France, that drew 11 airlines and four maintenance, repair and overhaul shops, said Paul-Antoine Calandreau, manager of Airbus’s flyable RFID program. The next focus group will be held in June.

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