SEATTLE, 6 June 2006. Boeing and FedEx jointly initiated an in-service evaluation of active radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on airplane parts for a FedEx MD-10 Freighter.
RFID automated identification and data collection technology uses radio frequency waves to transfer data between a reader and items with RFID tags. The tags store data, such as part and serial numbers, manufacturer codes, date of installation, and country of origin. The tags can store maintenance data, aiding airlines in better understanding the consumption of parts to ensure adequate inventories are on hand.
"The RFID technology is designed to help airlines reduce ownership costs by managing repairs and tracking assets," says Kenneth Porad, RFID program manager for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "On-airplane use of active RFID technology is making history and setting the stage for wireless sensor networks in the future."
The active tags -- created by Identec Solutions -- are battery powered and contain a microchip and transmitter that operate at 915MHz. The read-range capability of these active tags is 300 feet. Active tags also operate more quickly and provide more storage memory than passive tags. They provide the ability to inventory an aircraft without opening access doors.
The tags have been installed in all zones of the airplane including the flight deck, avionics compartment, cargo compartment, and wheel wells. The testing phase will also identify potential electromagnetic interference and detrimental environmental effects.
Following the test, Boeing will work with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to certify that active RFID devices do not adversely affect the operation of any aircraft systems or interfere with continued safety of flight. Use of these tags will benefit the airline industry by improving parts traceability and parts lifecycle management.