Airbus has become the first commercial aircraft manufacturer to deploy RFID part-marking to aircraft components on all its aircraft families. This year RFID is being rolled out to all seats and life vests for the A320, A330 and A380 aircraft families.
Airbus expects to tag 160,000 pieces, including 120,000 life vests and 40,000 seats. The tagging initiative complements the existing RFID part marking program on the A350 XWB.
Airbus expects increased value-chain visibility, error-proof identification and efficiency savings in component lifecycle management. Life vests and seats carry expiration dates and must be checked periodically. In the past this required a time consuming manual inspection that left room for error because of the manual data collection process. With RFID, life vests can be inspected by walking through the aircraft cabin with a handheld reader.
The process automatically confirms the presence of each required item, verifies its location and looks up associated data about the part, such as maintenance history and product expiration dates. This information can then be used to determine the aircraft configuration and prioritize maintenance planning for items due for inspection, overhaul or replacement.
“Permanent RFID part marking is an answer to the growing need for efficient and error-proof identification of aircraft components throughout their life,” says Tom Williams, executive vice president, programs, at Airbus. “The use of RFID part marking will enable the automation of multiple operational processes and is a benefit for all involved in managing the component during its lifecycle: vendor, integrator, airline and MRO.”