RFID Talk Blog

Delta tracks vital parts with RFID; saves 7,000 hours in labor

Airlines continue to embrace RFID to simplify maintenance tasks and to keep track of inspection histories for flyable parts like life vests and oxygen tanks. The latest example is Delta Air Lines. By affixing SmartMark RFID tags from William Frick & Co. to various parts, Delta has streamlined the audit process for safety equipment, slashing the time required to inspect oxygen tanks from approximately 10 hours to less than three minutes per plane. With a fleet of more than 700 aircraft, Delta is saving 7,000 labor hours alone just on its oxygen tank compliance.

RFID in the sky

Delta Air Lines is using RFID to track maintenance for in-flight parts like life vests.

Aside from simplifying safety and compliance, Delta realizes significant time and cost savings while capturing more data on inventory management and just-in-time replenishment that was not previously available.

Earlier this year, Airbus announced it is deploying 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 will attach RFID tags to every seat and life vest on all of its planes in 2013, including 120,000 life vests and 40,000 seats.

Rick Lewis, business analyst for Delta, says that RFID technology drastically reduces the time and effort needed for safety and maintenance checks, which has lead to profound cost savings.

Previously, Delta personnel spent countless hours conducting tedious inspection processes to ensure that no safety items remained in service beyond their expiration date. Delta’s entire fleet includes more than 700 aircraft; RFID is helping to track and perform visual inspections of approximately 140,000 life vests and more than 40,000 oxygen generators a year.

Using RFID, airline associates can check an entire plane in less than sixty seconds.

“We developed a custom RFID solution to provide Delta a fast, accurate way to collect and manage data for critical life limited safety equipment,” says Brent Howell, senior business development manager at William Frick & Co. “The results are economically game-changing. In addition to improved inspection time, the solution gives Delta access to data that they had not recorded previously, allowing for better and accurate planning.”

Frick SmartMark RFID tags for aviation are AS5678 certified, as required by the FAA. The Delta solution incorporates RFIDAeroCheck software to track and monitor the parts, reducing maintenance turnaround time by up to 99 percent, increasing the accuracy of safety checks, as well as enabling improved on-time performance for Delta flights.

Frick SmartMark RFID Oxygen Generator tags designed for Delta provide 15-foot read ranges and quick read times using a portable RFID reader. SmartMark tags are also available for application to life vest boxes/pouches, passenger oxygen masks, medical kits, and many other emergency equipment items.

Click here to view other RFID use cases for aviation.

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