Counterfeiting of parts is a serious problem in the aerospace industry. “About 2% of the 26 million parts installed on aircraft worldwide are counterfeit; that’s roughly half a million parts ranging from hardware to advanced electronics equipment,” according to Ben Jun, vice president of technology for Cryptography Research of San Francisco.
To help make counterfeiting harder to achieve, Jun’s company has developed an electronic chip that can be embedded in a part during manufacture. It will then communicate with a computer or another chip, “using a challenge/response protocol that verifies the chip is an authentic part,” Jun said. The chip also can be used for tracking purposes, to record flight hours and numbers of actuations, then provide information when limits are reached to prevent counterfeiters from trying to resell a timed-out part. The new chip works best with components that already incorporate microchips, Jun said. “We’re adding another square millimeter to the part, and manufacturers have found that quite compelling for protecting expensive parts.”