Blockchain explained

Clear skies ahead with blockchain in aviation: Making airspace safer

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Aviation safety is a serious concern for every traveler. But on a regular basis each of us is confronted by the news of aviation incidents. The time has come for change, the use of blockchain can improve both airspace safety and the efficiency and transparency of the aviation industry.

The aviation industry is subject to many regulations and directives, with the primary objective set by the government to ensure the end-to-end safety of passengers and everybody involved. However, over time this approach has caused a growing complexity and struggle to meet the current government-imposed regulations and directives. At the same time, the industry has gone truly global with growing pressure to maintain and improve the profitability of the operators. Even just focusing on the aircraft itself, having a clear view of the requirements and history is a valuable benefit for both industry and government.

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Keeping up with regulation and supply chain

Keeping up with the continuous, increasing complexity of regulations and directives that are applicable for a specific aircraft (or an aircraft part) is a struggle for government and businesses in the airline industry. In addition, the lack of access to historical information of the aircraft (or the aircraft part) creates inefficiencies and imposes safety risks. The supply chain of parts must avoid the use of counterfeited parts, the re-use of wrecked aircraft parts, or uncertified overhauled parts. Safety can be compromised when government and businesses don’t know accurate information about the applicable directives, the valid certifications, and the authorized and approved permits.

Using blockchain in the aviation industry is beneficial for government and for businesses, and for others. Out of the numerous benefits, the following three benefits are the most important:

  1. Immutability and auditability are fundamental characteristics of blockchain that improve the visibility on regulatory compliance, so government and businesses know which directives are applicable and have been fulfilled.
  2. Consequently, the immutability and auditability provide a clean historical trail that improves transparency on the history of the aircraft and parts.
  3. With smart contracts, directives can be applied to the appropriate aircraft and parts, which improves the overall process efficiency and results in an increase of the assets performance.

Blockchain as an aviation industry solution

With blockchain, because there is a single source of truth, both public and private organizations in the airline and aircraft industry see increased efficiency between government and industry. Because the audit trail shows changes in regulations and directives, organizations can ensure correct compliance.

If network peers in the airline industry use traditional technologies, there are risks of being out of compliance, or finding out about requirements or regulations too late, costing time and resources. Approaches that do not use blockchain risk a loss of time and effort, causing inefficiencies, and a potential exposure and risk to passenger safety overall.

Blockchain and beyond for accountability

Both governmental organizations and private organizations must participate as actors in the aviation industry use case with blockchain. The aviation authority, aviation safety authority, and airport and airspace authorities are governmental organizations. Aircraft manufacturers, parts manufacturers, maintenance organizations, and the aircraft operators and owners are the private organizations. Also, the aircraft itself could be considered as a member of the blockchain network, through the integration of Internet of Things (IoT) data.

Ensuring safety in the aviation industry is the key objective of government. Using a blockchain network across the industry players provides full visibility and transparency on meeting safety regulations, and it improves the operational efficiency across all the players involved.

Reach out to us — @b_bogaert and @robertloredo through Twitter — to continue this conversation.

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Cloud Platform Technical Lead - Member IBM Academy of Technology

Robert Loredo

Product Leader, Master Inventor, Blockchain Digital Mentor, Quantum Ambassador at IBM

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