Life jacket security checks improved by RFID technology

New security seals containing RFID (radio frequency identification) chips will soon be attached to life vests, helping improve security search processes across the airline’s long-haul fleet.

As part of current security checks, life vests are removed, inspected and placed back on each turnround. The time consuming process is normally conducted by the airline’s cleaning or security teams, resulting in more than 11 million checks a year. In addition, Engineering colleagues also carry out a manual inspection on average every 90 days to check expiry dates of life vests. Both tasks are labour-intensive, time consuming, and costly; life vest holders are regularly replaced after being worn out through over search in the security check process.

Peter Bunting, Airport Transformation Project Manager said: “RFID technology has been around for a while but is a relatively new concept for British Airways, and we’re leading the way by using these chips to help improve our safety and security searches. The new life vest security seals, which contain the chip, will allow colleagues to use a handheld scanner and walk through the aircraft to check the integrity of all life vest seals. An alert will inform the user if any seals have been interfered or tampered with, without having to physically inspect the life vest stowage. A search could be conducted in a few minutes.” Expiry date data can also be uploaded to a separate tag on the life vest itself so that the scanner can identify life expectancy of the vest.

Aviation Security spearheaded the introduction of this innovative way to improve the turnround process.