RFID Security in the Aviation Industry

Servicing Critical Airplane Parts

RFID is becoming more and more prevalent throughout the aviation industry: Today RFID is used for baggage and cargo tracking, managing inventory (e.g. life vests, catering), and even for tagging critical airplane parts. RFID is becoming the technology of choice for MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) providers and airplane manufacturers, including Airbus and Boeing, to ensure high value airplane components are serviced or replaced at regular intervals in a timely manner.

There are several reasons why RFID is successful in MRO, one of them being its very core feature: Automated identification without line of sight - this kind of instant visibility offers greatly improved efficiency and accuracy for the servicing process where it is often difficult to physically get to an integrated part and where servicing records have traditionally been managed with pen and paper. RFID also helps verify the authenticity of original parts and thus identify counterfeit components ensuring they do not put passengers at risk.

Another key benefit is the ability of RFID tags to store and modify data. This capability goes far beyond a bar code providing only a static ID. By reading data from the RFID tag attached to a particular component a service mechanic can review its entire maintenance and repair history in place. Once done the mechanic can write data back to the tag providing information about when and where his service took place and what was done. Thus, RFID becomes the enabling technology for managing the servicing workflow and lifecycle of critical airplane components.

With such rich data stored on the tag it is important to make sure it is authentic, e.g. demonstrate the last maintenance date has not been tampered with. Also it is important to reliably sign off on maintenance, in other words proof to a third party that a part was indeed serviced by a specific mechanic and service provider. Building on its cryptographic feature set NeoCatena's RF-Wall implements a bullet-proof solution increasing maintenance reliability and efficiency and therefore passenger safety.


 
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