Anybody who attended today's Global Aviation RFID Forum in Xiamen, China, can not doubt Boeing's enthusiasm for radio frequency identification. Boeing, which presented the forum in conjunction with AVIATION WEEK, hosted airlines, MROs, regulators and suppliers, mostly from Asia, at the meeting. Ken Porad, program manager for Boeing Commercial Airplanes' automated identification program, thinks RFID will cause a paradigm shift for MRO because passive RFID tags on airplanes will be able to hold not only a part's serial number and "birth records," but also its maintenance and service history – all of which can be viewed via an RFID reader.
Porad said Boeing is working on the 787 Dreamliner task cards, maintenance manuals and component manuals to accommodate RFID. All Nippon Airways will receive the first 787 in 2008, so between now and then, Boeing and its suppliers are fast-tracking the tag necessities.
Boeing officials think SAE Aerospace will finalize a new aerospace standard called AS5678 on Wednesday. This standard calls for passive RFID tags in the 860 to 915 MHz range.
Boeing also is holding two more component suppliers technical forums next month (Oct. 4 in Atlanta and Oct. 17 in Los Angeles) to lay out the 787 RFID requirements. Boeing already held one in Frankfurt on Sept. 5.
Intelliflex, which is producing the integrated circuits for the passive tags, will have production circuits available in November, according to Rich Bravman, the company's chairman and CEO. The $5 chips then need to go into a label designed by one of the four approved partners (Brady Corp., Confidex, Tyco Electronic and Toppan Forums). Boeing urged 787 component suppliers to contact one of the tag suppliers now to get the process started. Keep in mind the 787 is on target to first fly next year, so there's not a lot of extra time.