Designed to optimise helicopter maintenance and in-service operations, RFID technology improves the traceability of assets, facilitates the acquisition of on-board aircraft configuration data and contributes to a data-driven service policy.
This innovative approach from Eurocopter includes the application of a fully embedded system combining active and passive RFID technologies, which are connected by a wireless network. Other advanced elements involve the use of adaptive readers for RFID tag data, the optimisation of data transmission performance in challenging environments, along with the aspects of authentication, encryption and security.
RFID tags are microchips combined with an antenna in a compact package. The tag’s antenna picks up signals from an RFID reader or scanner and then returns the signal, usually with some additional data (like a unique serial number or other customised information).
Riding the radio waves
The RFID tags can be installed on dynamic elements such as the helicopter’s rotor system and gearbox, as well as on key mechanical components and in the helicopter’s avionics. In operational use, personnel on the ramp remotely download data from an RFID-equipped helicopter after its landing, rapidly accessing information for maintenance, flight times and cycles, as well as in-flight events. When RFID-tagged aircraft components are in the shop, maintenance data also can be tracked and updated on the tag.
Eurocopter’s ongoing work in this field has included technology development and prototyping, along with experimentation using passive/active RFID tags and readers, the data concentrator and secured mesh network. This activity positions the company for integration and testing of the system on a Eurocopter-operated Dauphin helicopter, which is planned in 2011.
Did you know…?
Eurocopter’s customer network covers more than 2,800 operators, who fly nearly 11,000 helicopters in 147 countries.