Thursday, April 06, 2006

Smarter Than I Thought: The Parts ID System

It is reported today by Flight International that Boeing is instituting a 'smart' parts tracking system with RF identification labels to be attached to aircraft parts on the 787, the better to trace them. A worthy effort and I applaud them. They are also working on a passive tracking system with Fedex on one of their DC10 freighters.

However. I suggested that such technologies were cheap and readily available back in 1996 when I published a law review article entitled Flying Underground:The Trade in Bootleg Aircraft Parts in the Journal of Air Law and Commerce at Southern Methodist University.

I opined at the time that if the UPS man who brings a package of sneakers to my door had the man-portable technology to scan and track my package from the point of origination to the point of departure, there was no principled reason why we should not be doing the same thing with traceable and life limited aircraft parts, in view of the risks involved from counterfeit and bogus parts.

The technology has only gotten better and cheaper in the intervening years. If we're able to track a 69 cent can of wax beans from the cannery through the distributor and supermarket to the point of sale. it's high time someone did something like Boeing, only cheaper and with a lot less self aggrandizing chest thumping.

There. I have spoken.


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