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Airbus Expands RFID Part Marking Across All of Its Aircraft Families

Building on its A350 XWB deployment, the airplane manufacturer is now expanding its RFID part-marking activities to all seats and life vests for its A320, A330 and A380 aircraft.
By Mark Roberti
Nov 12, 2012In July 2009, Airbus became the first commercial aircraft manufacturer to announce plans to employ permanent radio frequency identification tags on parts for its A350 XWB aircraft (see Airbus Issues RFID Requirements, Expands RFID Usage). Approximately 3,000 serialized, replaceable, repairable parts with a limited lifespan were covered. To date, the company has received and successfully tested its RFID tagged parts as the first A350 XWB aircraft make their way through the production process.

Now, Airbus is the first aircraft manufacturer to expand the permanent tagging of selected parts across its entire fleet. Speaking at RFID Journal LIVE! Europe—Scandinavia, in Oslo, Norway, on Oct. 25, Carlo Nizam, Airbus' head of value-chain visibility and auto-ID, explained that all seats and life vests on new A320, A330 and A380 aircraft being produced would be progressively tagged with permanent RFID tags, starting in 2013.

The annual volume of RFID part marking conducted under this expansion is estimated to reach 160,000 RFID tags—roughly 120,000 life vests and 40,000 seats for all aircraft families. This is in addition to the annual volume of 400,000 tags used for the A350 XWB when at full production.

"RFID part marking is another example of non-stop innovation at Airbus, and will enable the automation of multiple operational processes up and down the value chain," Nizam stated. "It's a benefit for all involved in managing components during their lifecycle: vendor, integrator, airline and MRO [maintenance, repair and overhaul] service provider."

The scope of efficiency savings that can be achieved via permanent RFID part marking is substantial. For example, in the past, each of several hundred life jackets and seats within an airplane's cabin would need to be manually checked and noted, necessitating lengthy manual data entry. But as each Airbus aircraft will soon come pre-equipped with RFID tags, a single individual will be able to read the tags within a few minutes using a lightweight handheld reader.

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