RFID Brings Greater Safety and Speed to Pre-Flight Checks

Pre-flight safety procedures on aircraft has never been more stringent. A number of high-profile incidents alongside a general trend towards health and safety has left little space to maneuver in this time-consuming element of air travel. Such procedures are vital of course, but what if there was a way to increase the accuracy of these checks while also saving time?

Fiji Airways, rebranded from Air Pacific in June 2013, has recently introduced radio frequency identification (RFID) technology into its in-cabin inspections of emergency equipment. The technology has allowed them to reduce inspection time to a matter of minutes while also increasing accuracy and reliability of these crucial procedures; increasing safety and reducing delays.

“As an airline, we seek to innovate and to pass that on to our customers. By utilizing RFID technology, we can inspect hundreds of items on each plane within minutes, enhancing internal efficiencies and decreasing ground time. These enhancements allow us to continue our relentless focus on safety and operational excellence. EAM RFID Solutions is a natural fit for our needs in this regard,” said Mr. Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways’ Managing Director and CEO.

In fact, the international airline has been using EAM Worldwide life vests for over 10 years, and their initial testing for these items simply required RFID readers and training. They have since added RFID to other onboard emergency equipment such as life rafts, oxygen bottles, fire extinguishers, extension seat belts, earmuffs, flashlights, survival kits as well as oxygen generators across their A330, B737, ATR, and Twin Otter fleet. 

Pre-flight checks now simply involve inspectors opening their RFID reader and moving from one end of the cabin to the other. The reader captures tag the ID via RFID and forwards the collected data to the handheld display via a cellular connection. When an item is detected as missing, expired or in need of maintenance, messages are sent to the inspector and supply chain managers to efficiently handle any issues. 

Such was the success of the pilot, Fiji Airways intend to continue with the program by deploying a wider Cyber Physical System (CPS) by tagging other items (including seat covers) and seeking to advance opportunities with additional system integration. Their installation already includes thousands ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags throughout its entire fleet of 15 aircraft, which serve 69 destinations in 15 countries.

The South Pacific firm joins a host of the world’s most progressive airlines in exploring the vast benefits RFID can bring to their organizations. Enhancing pre-flight checks is just the tip of an iceberg that includes manufacturing and supply chain management. For an industry built on safety and speed, RFID seems the perfect fit for airlines.

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Jim Donaldson

Jim is the Sr. Director of Corporate Communications at Mojix, Inc., a leading provider of ITEM LEVEL intelligence solutions to the retail and industrial markets. Jim has more than 30 years experience working for both start-up and public technology companies.

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