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Airbus Issues RFID Requirements, Expands RFID Usage

The aircraft maker has distributed RFID requirements to suppliers of parts for its A350 aircraft, and will use EPC RFID tags to manage the configuration of A330 and A340 planes, as well as to track tools.
By Rhea Wessel
Jul 09, 2009Aircraft manufacturer Airbus indicates it has distributed RFID requirements as part of its technical specifications for suppliers worldwide for the A350 extra-wide body (XWB) aircraft currently under development. In addition, the company says it has embarked on number of new RFID projects, and has expanded one it has already deployed.

Carlo K. Nizam, Airbus' head of value chain visibility and auto-ID—who recently discussed the company's RFID efforts at the RFID Journal LIVE! Middle East 2009 conference, held last month in Dubai—says, "We have requested a combination of RFID and contact memory button [CMB] part marking for a selection of parts on the A350."

Carlo K. Nizam, Airbus' head of value chain visibility and auto-ID
The requirements the company has distributed will not impact all suppliers to Airbus, but will affect all that provide parts involved in a repair cycle. Nizam declines to reveal the types of parts or systems impacted by the requirements, since the aircraft systems are still in the detailed definition phase, but says that approximately 2,000 to 5,000 parts could require RFID part marking by suppliers by 2011 or earlier. The A350 XWB is scheduled to enter into service in 2013.

"We have created some criteria to help our suppliers assess which parts should be tagged, either with RFID or contact memory buttons," Nizam says. "These criteria are contained with the requirement documents that have already been distributed. For example, if a part is serialized, repairable and replaceable, it would require either an RFID tag or a CMB."

In pressurized areas of the aircraft, Nizam explains, RFID tags will be employed. In unpressurized sections, however, it is likely that contact memory buttons will be used, because of their greater robustness to harsh environments compared with current ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags.


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