It was a misconception in the past that the blockchain was made only for crypto currencies. The blockchain technology has a bigger role to play beyond the crypto currencies and financial transactions. Various use cases of blockchain technology in aviation and aircraft maintenance is evaluated in this blog.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is perhaps the biggest buzzword in the technology landscape today. Put at its simplest: a blockchain is a distributed ledger that provides a way for information to be shared and recorded by a community.
There are a number of key blockchain characteristics that could be of real benefit to the aircraft leasing industry if utilised in the correct manner. They are (1) data integrity (2) trust (3) smart contracts and many other characteristics like Inter Planetary File System etc. These characteristics make it suitable for use in aviation and maintenance applications.
Use Case 1 – Aircraft Defect Tracking & Maintenance
An aircraft, during its lifetime of 30 to 35 years would be owned by different operators who are legally bound to track the maintenance on the aircraft as per the OEM requirements. Management of the maintenance records of the aircraft and the components installed on them becomes a Herculean task if it is not maintained in a suitable structured database.
It is surprising to know that many of the modern aircraft and their component maintenance records are still stored in traditional paper forms. This posses a big challenge for the airworthiness authorities and for the new owners of the aircraft who are responsible for the CAMO (Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisations). Many organisations have moved on to electronic systems to manage the maintenance and planning data, but still the non standard disconnection databases defeats the purpose. The electronic data resides with the previous owners in a barely retrievable manner and doesn’t serve its purpose when it is required for the new owners. Blockchain technology will be a boon to solving this problem. Also, the pooling of aircraft rotables is another issue. The pooled rotables are used without any access to historical maintenance data by most of the operators.
An immutable copy of the maintenance transactions can be maintained in blockchain for the aircraft and its associated components. This can be retrieved and audited by the airworthiness authorities time to time. The systems like ACARS can be integrated to blockchain to record and maintain the in flight messages. AMC Aerospace is committed to provide aviation systems that will work on blockchain.
Use Case 2 – Warranty Management & Tracking
Managing the warranty of aircraft and components from OEMs or third party vendors is a big challenge that was less addressed. Using blockchain to mange the warranty of the components can save millions of dollars to the airline operators.
Use Case 3 – Purchasing & Supply Chain Management
The traditional method of purchasing parts by Enquiry->Purchase Order process over emails/ written correspondence is being followed by many airlines. This results in higher supply chain costs and lack of productivity and cycle time. Using blockchain to manage the purchase contracts and tracking the delivery and payment to the vendors will make this process highly efficient and productive.