Now boarding for passive RFID

The Federal Aviation Administration this week announced approval of passive-only radio frequency identification devices for planes on the ground, Boeing officials said.

Boeing, Europe's Airbus and the FAA had been drafting a policy on certification for two years in a process similar to approving the use of wireless phones on aircraft, said Kenneth Porad, program manager of the Automated Identification Program at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

"Well guys, the day has finally arrived," reads a June 14 e-mail from FAA aerospace engineer John Dimtroff to Boeing officials. "The passive RFID memo has been approved and signed by all. It is official."

But FAA officials said the policy will not be released on the agency's Web site until early next week, after the policy is processed officially through the FAA administrative control system.

A May 13 FAA memo, signed by Dimtroff and distributed to all FAA directorates, states that passive RFID is acceptable for commercial aircraft as long as seven technical conditions exist, including restricting the technology to ground operations only.

FAA officials said RFID technology will help aviation become more efficient and less costly because of its ability to track cargo, passenger baggage and aircraft components. As the technology expands, FAA officials said they will examine security uses of RFID but would not provide details to Federal Computer Week.


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