“We’re hoping RFID can improve parts visibility and parts lifecycle visibility,” says James Ford, FedEx manager of engineering support. “The aircraft records department keeps track of hundreds of parts, and if we could throw RFID tags on those parts, it would reduce the workload significantly.”
The active tags are being tested by Boeing and FedEx on one of the expedited and express carrier’s MD-10 Freighters. Created by Identec Solutions, the battery-powered tags hold a microchip and transmitter that operates on an internationally recognized standard frequency, 915 MHz. With their use it’s possible to inventory an entire aircraft without opening any doors. Where passive tags typically operate with a 10-foot read range, these active tags may be read at 300-feet.
Testing will include identification of potential electromagnetic interference and potentially harmful environmental effects. Tags are located throughout the aircraft, including wheel wells, the cargo compartment, avionics compartment and the flight deck.
Upon completion of testing, Boeing will work with the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency for certification that the active RFID tags don’t adversely affect aircraft operations or systems or interfere with flight safety. Testing is scheduled to be completed by September 15.