Could RFID have prevented American Airlines from canceling more than 3,000 flights this week? Behind the cancellations: safety inspections. American grounded the MD-80 airplanes to make sure the wiring in the wheel wells was properly protected from chafing. Not a difficult task. After all, the airlines isn't a stranger to technology.
I went to industry experts to find the answer.
QLM Consulting Principal Michael McCartnery:
"RFID can assist by actively monitoring the critical control points in airplanes and alerting the airlines of issues before they can become problems," McCartnery says. "Boeing successfully tested the use if RFID tags to monitor maintenance issues in their soon to be released Dream Liner."
ABI Research Director Michael J. Liard:
Liard says the specific problem relates to a September 2006 repair order, called an Airworthiness Directive, where the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave MD-80 operators 18 months to place a sleeve around a bundle of high-power wires in the MD-80 wheel wells. Upon inspection by the FAA, it was determined American Airlines was not in compliance.
"With an increasingly mobile workforce, you could design workflow processes and mobile inspections," he says. "It's not a common practice in today's market, and I'm not expecting to see mass adoption tomorrow, but it could help in the future."
What are your thoughts? How could RFID keep better track of maintenance orders?