An RFID reader near the entrance of an airplane
By Oliver Ledgard | June 3, 2024

How One Airline is Using RFID to Mitigate the Risks of Rushed Cabin Inspections

If you’re looking for a way to turn around flights faster without compromising passenger or crew safety, check out this new tech-supported process that’s proving helpful around the world.

After years of record lows, the news that air travel is poised to exceed pre-pandemic levels in the coming months should be welcome news. But I know that increased demand brings increased pressure to turn around flights faster. It might have you concerned that crews will miss something during rushed – or even routine – inspections. 

I know this was on the minds of many airline executives I spoke with at Passenger Terminal Expo 2024. Nearly every conversation centered on ground operations and the changes needed to facilitate faster flight turnarounds without compromising safety, with three questions being asked most frequently:

  1. How can crews confirm that cabins are fully stocked with the items needed for a safe, enjoyable flight? 

  2. How can we be more efficient without compromising safety or passenger confidence?

  3. How can we better maintain regulatory compliance?

With cabin inspections requiring a full accounting of everything from catering items, duty-free stocks, and safety cards to life vests, oxygen systems, and fire suppressants – and such inspections requiring far more than confirmation of items’ presence – it can be easy for crew members to miss something. The human eye is easily deceived. So, I thought it might be helpful to share what some airline crews are doing to better manage the assets that contribute to a safe, enjoyable flight for passengers and crew. 

The New Look of ‘Visual’ Inspections

In short, many airlines across Europe, Asia, and even North America are taking a page out of other industries’ playbooks and using RFID to track everything from the location and quantities to the expiry dates of onboard assets. These assets range from catering carts/food service equipment used every flight to safety equipment that might only be used in case of emergency – and might never be used at all.  

For example, AirAsia crews are using RFID to facilitate routine, and sometimes remotely supported, inspections of life vests and other safety equipment for compliance and customer satisfaction purposes. The full process is explained in the Spring 2024 issue of Aircraft IT MRO starting on p. 52, so I hope you’ll click there next to learn…

  • how AirAsia employees are now conducting and recording safety equipment inspections in cabins.

  • why AirAsia executives decided to use RFID to automate certain elements of cabin inspections.

  • what improvements to inspection efficiency and compliance AirAsia executives reported within the first year.  

  • the secondary cost reductions the airline now enjoys in the labor, maintenance, and inventory categories. 

  • how using RFID technology for cabin inspections aligns with ‘sustainability goals and corporate responsibility initiatives in the aviation industry.’ 

After you read about the impact RFID-automated cabin inspections are having across AirAsia operations, you’ll probably want to find out more about the specific technology being used in this effort. So, this announcement from AirAsia would be worth a quick read. 

Similar technology is being used by other airlines to ensure first aid kits, flashlights, evacuation slides, smoke hoods and more are properly in place and not expired before each flight. That’s because a traditional visual inspection process causes flight delays to the tune of 32,309,384 minutes (and $8.3 billion in unnecessary spending) each year. 

So, if you’re looking for ways to avoid flight delays related to missing, recalled, or expired assets in cabins, or you’re hoping to improve audit trails and compliance rates for aircraft equipment inspections, let’s talk about how you may be able to use RFID similarly. 

I’d also be happy to share some of the additional ways RFID is now being used by airlines and others in the aviation industry above and below the wing – and in support of tech, cargo, catering and crew operations. You can reach me here.

Blog, Success Story, Article, Automation, Digitizing Workflows, New Ways of Working, RFID, Transportation and Logistics,

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