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Group Studies RFID's Potential to Help Speed Aircraft Turnarounds

The IATA/SITA/Cambridge Turnaround Project is exploring how automatic ID technologies can be used to maximize aircraft utilization.
By Rhea Wessel
"This project is not the typical managing-your-assets use of RFID," Price notes. "It's managing events. When is the right person in place? When is an activity complete? What we're really interested in is a mechanism for capturing the data we need for monitoring the process, and having this in a consistent manner to manage every turnaround in the same way and give airlines increased flexibility with turnarounds."

Turning an aircraft around, the project's participants stress, does not involve just one company. Rather, it's a complex process, and information about events needs to be shared among multiple—and, at times, competing—parties.

"Networked automated ID technologies promise better, and more flexible, means of data sharing," says Marie Zitkova, head of auto-ID services at SITA, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland. "This is a very exciting promise for a community relying on data-sharing heavily every day. To derive the most benefit and avoid curing the 'symptoms' [versus eliminating the cause of the problems], the study takes the holistic approach of addressing data sharing for the entire turnaround, rather than looking at individual activities separately."

The project partners will publish the results of the study on Cambridge Auto-ID Lab's Web site by September. For six months, the report will be viewable only by project partners and those given specific access. After September, partners will begin developing the analysis tool. Once this step is completed, IATA will report back to its members—the airlines—which will then decide where to take the project.

"If it's a compelling business case," Price says, "the IATA board of governors may ask for a second phase of work where new processes and techniques would be implemented."

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