New RFID Solution Decreases Maintenance Times on Boeing Airplanes

A Boeing 777 aircraft in flight
A Boeing 777 aircraft in flight

(RFIDWorld.ca) Boeing aircraft manufacturer has been able to decrease its oxygen generator check time from thirteen hours to only eight and a half minutes. This time slash has been made possible with the development of RFID technology system created by teaming up with another company, Fujitsu who is also now offering the service to other airlines.

The small oxygen generators are located in the passenger service unit that is above some seats in the Boeing 777 aircrafts and are now being generated by the new RFID technology being used.

These generators which are critical to safety have manufacture and expiry dates which need to be clearly checked by airlines. In addition to that part numbers also need to be checked and replaced if expired or damaged every time the generators are replaced.

Phil Coop, the programme manager of Boeing said that before they adopted the RFID technology, an extenuated amount of research was done to identify what the fastest way of maintaining the oxygen generators would be. This is the first project of its kind of any airline, according to Coop. He further stated that the RFID tags can be checked with the handheld readers that come with it, which are able to display all the information needed in just eight and a half minutes. Thats all it takes to discover whether the oxygen generators need to be changed.

There were concerns about the quality and validity of the information generated with such a drastic decrease in reading time but it has been stated that there is no potential glitches that need to be worried about. There was intense research done and time spent on generating such a system so concerns should be at a minimum.

The previous system required the panels of the airplane to stay open which meant that the aircraft would be left stationary for six-and-a-half hours.

With the new RFID system, the storage space needed has also be reduced by 80 percent. In addition, the service life of the generators has gone up by 20 percent.

Developing such technology is not the business of Boeing but it used its expertise to market the technology as a product. This means that if other airlines decide to buy the product from Boeing, they will not have to search for the separate parts from elsewhere. Instead they will be able to purchase the full package from one place. This is Boeing’s marketing strategy.

Fujitsu, a leading supplier of RFID technology was the only company that offered 64 kb passive UHS tags which were needed to build the technology required for the oxygen generator maintenance system. The criticality of such UHS tags is what led Boeing to go to Fujitsu, the only supplier in the world of the tags.

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