M2M Ensures Safety on a Plane


The next time you jump on an airplane, take a look around. Everything from the life vests, to the oxygen masks, to the security lighting could be embedded with M2M. This technology, however, is not targeted to the flyers and isn’t even necessarily used when the plane is in flight.

For the airline industry, the process of ensuring all the safety equipment is on board the plane is essential, yet manual inspections of the aircraft prior to departure can take several hours. This is where a combination of iPads and M2M can help.

With an iPad-based asset-management solution, staff can check inventory and maintenance of cabin, passenger, and security equipment. One new system, FLYcheck from MAINtag, www.maintag.com, provides a 3D view of the cabin and data related to the equipment’s inventory number, expiration date, and exact location on the plane. With this system, inventory check time can be reduced by as much as 90%.

Additionally, the safety equipment, such as life vests, oxygen masks, oxygen generators, megaphones, lamps, security lighting, radio beacons, medical kits, fire extinguishers, ropes, and more, can be verified using RFID (radio-frequency identification).

The FLYcheck solution complies with ATA Spec 2000, which is a set of specifications for the airline industry’s supply chain. ATA Spec 2000 has been available for more than 40 years, although it has evolved to include the latest technology advances in information exchange.

There are a number of considerations for the airlines when using M2M and RFID for inventory management on airplanes, i.e., if the tags are single-record tags or dual-memory tags. Airbus, www.airbus.com, for example, is now using dual-memory tags on aircrafts and is even requiring vest suppliers to comply with the dual-memory tag criteria outlined by the ATA Spec 2000 committee.

Announced last week, EAM Worldwide, www.eamworldwide.com, a safety equipment manufacturer, and EAM RFID Solutions, www.eamrfid.com, a RFID hardware and software provider, are responsible for dual-memory-enabled life vests on the Airbus A320 easyJet-owned aircraft.

What’s the difference between dual-memory tags and single-record tags? Dual-memory allow EAM to write the birth record, including the part number, serial number, date of manufacture, and more, during the manufacturing process, as well as create a rewritable section. Single-record tags have limited ability when it comes to modifying or adding more data once it is set by the OEM (original-equipment manufacturer).

The use of M2M and RFID on an aircraft gives staff the ability to easily identify where the safety equipment is located, significantly reducing the amount of time to perform inspections prior to a flight. With this technology installed on much of the equipment already on a plane, it will be interesting to see how airlines continue take advantage of M2M and RFID going forward.

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June/July 2014
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