Major manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus began asking suppliers to tag cartons, pallets and individual parts more than a decade ago. Where are we now? Xerafy looks back at how applications for RFID increasingly deliver operational performances to the Aviation industry.
Airbus initially tracked parts for its A350 aircraft and certain components for its A320, A330 and A380 aircraft. In 2015, Airbus asked its suppliers to tag all traceable items with passive RFID transponders. Airbus defines “traceable” as anything serialized, repairable, replaceable, maintainable, or life-limited.
Boeing has used passive UHF RFID tags to track certain classes of aircraft parts for several years. In 2012, it announced these tags would allow airlines, inspectors and maintenance staff to read and write data about the parts’ histories using these tags. More recently, it began using UHF RFID tags on parts to track assembly processes at its manufacturing facilities.
While each of these major end users has its own RFID tagging requirements, they all align with the Air Transport Association’s (ATA) Spec2000 e-business framework for file standards, e-commerce, barcoding, and RFID tagging of parts.
SAE International also developed the SAE AS5678 requirements for manufacturing and testing passive RFID tags for aviation applications. Their updated AS5678A standard certifies passive RFID tags intended for permanently affixed installation on aircraft parts. The standard provides a requirements document for tag manufacturers, identifies minimum performance requirements and other standards, and specifies test requirements for UHF RFID tags. They’re also developing new standards (SAE AS6023) for active and battery assisted RFID tags for aircraft use.
Bear in mind, using standards-compliant RFID tags does not ensure tags will work successfully. The tags must also be durable enough to perform well in the extremely harsh environments of the aircraft assembly facility and the aircraft itself – exposed to extreme temperatures, pressure and vibration.
Join the conversation – What do you see as the next big application for RFID in Aviation?