Do U.S. Airlines Use RFID Technology for Tracking Assets?

By RFID Journal

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Ask The ExpertsDo U.S. Airlines Use RFID Technology for Tracking Assets?
RFID Journal Staff asked 9 years ago

If that's the case, which ones are doing so?

—Name withheld


Yes, several do.

Delta Air Lines has been using RFID in its maintenance operations for more than two years, tagging emergency equipment in airplane cabins that must be on every plane and must not be expired—oxygen generators, life vests, portable oxygen bottles, first-aid kits, medical kits, defibrillators, fire suppression squibs, and so forth. RFID replaces repeated date inspections and allows Delta to get the maximum life out of an asset before removing it from service. Additional projects are planned to employ RFID for internal distribution, identifying and tracking tire inventory, and other projects. Delta is currently testing an RFID application to improve Transportation Security Agency (TSA) security checks in Atlanta, Detroit and Tokyo, with eventual expansion planned for the entire fleet (see Delta Air Lines Uses RFID in MRO and Security Operations).

In 2009, United Airlines—together with Star Alliance, a global association comprising 21 airlines that works to improve the flying experience of its members' passengers, and the TSA—tested an RFID system to speed baggage and passenger check-in for frequent flyers at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. The airline alliance, which counts United as a member, tested whether using radio frequency identification to identify passengers and their luggage could hasten the check-in process (see United Airlines Tests RFID to Speed Baggage and Passenger Check-In).

In 2012, Boeing Commercial Aviation Services launched its RFID Integrated Solutions, which was trialed by Alaska Airlines to determine how well tags on engine parts and other airplane components—including aircraft-rotating equipment and landing-gear parts—sustain the rigors of flight and still store and transmit data regarding each part's maintenance record (see Boeing to Launch RFID Program for Airlines in February). Boeing developed the solution in partnership with Fujitsu (see Boeing, Fujitsu to Offer Airlines a Holistic RFID Solution).

In addition, Southwest Airlines Cargo (Southwest Airlines' cargo services branch) has approved an RFID solution for use by shippers on its aircraft. The system is intended to provide data regarding the environmental conditions within a Cold Chain Technologies container of temperature-sensitive goods, such as vaccines or drugs, measured and recorded throughout a flight via an Intelleflex battery-assisted passive (BAP) RFID sensor. At the end of the flight, a handheld reader could be used to capture information from the tag or tags placed within the box. In this way, users can view temperature data without opening containers at airports or other locations. The solution will be marketed by Cold Chain Technologies (see Southwest Accepts RFID Device to Track Cargo Temperatures).

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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