Boeing develops RFID solution to cut time spent on aircraft maintenance

By Dawinderpal Sahota
12 Jan 2011 View Comments

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has developed a system that uses RFID technology to slash maintenance time required to check oxygen generators from 13 hours to just eight and a half minutes.

The company has teamed up with Fujitsu and the two companies are now offering the service to airlines.

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The system uses RFID technology to manage the small oxygen generators stored in the passenger service unit that sits above the seat in Boeing's 777 aircrafts.

These generators, which are safety critical items, have specific manufacturing and expiry dates. Airlines need to continuously check whether the generators have fallen past their expiry date, while part numbers also need to be checked when the generators are replaced.

"We did a workshop with Japan Airlines to identify ways in which we could use RFID to speed up the maintenance process – it was the first project of its kind," explained Phil Coop, programme manager at Boeing.

"The RFID tags allow one person to scan the oxygen generators with an RFID handheld reader and read the tags with all of the information in just eight and a half minutes.

The previous system, in which all the panels had to be opened, meant a 777 would have to remain stationary for six-and-a-half hours."

The system also reduces inventory by up to 80 per cent and expands the service life of the generators by 20 per cent.

Although developing such technology is not Boeing's core business, the company has used its expertise to market the technology as a product, meaning other airlines don't have to purchase the different elements of the product themselves.

The company chose to team up with Fujitsu as it is a leading supplier of RFID technologies, and is the world's only supplier of the 64kb passive UHS tags, which are critical to the product.


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