Blockchain for Aviation – Better Transparency and Trust Using Blockchain

Would you like to travel in a plane which is not safe to fly? The answer would be No. Who wishes to book a ticket on the airplane that has maintenance issues? Currently, it is impossible to book a flight based on its aircraft score or rank. But what if you could check the aircraft maintenance score while booking a flight ticket.

Imagine you visited expedia.com to check the flight rates from LA to NY and it displayed the following information with an aircraft maintenance score reflected in different colors.

  • LA → NY: $235 | Aircraft Maintenance score: ORANGE
  • LA → NY: $300 | Aircraft Maintenance score: GREEN

Green color indicates the aircraft is safe to fly, while Orange represents the plane is partially secure. Booking a flight by looking at the aircraft score could help you make better decisions. It sounds strange, but it could become possible with the help of Blockchain.

Read further, to understand how could blockchain help maintain Aircraft maintenance record and build next-generation of aviation products.

Before moving to the blockchain, let’s figure out how Aircraft Maintenance Records are managed currently

The aviation industry is experiencing rapid growth with the increased number of passengers and 50% more aircraft are expected to be operational by 2026.

With the increased number of aircraft, the maintenance process also becomes complicated. John Maggiore, Director of Maintenance for Boeing says “90% of the aircraft maintenance records (AMR) are paper-based“.

According to Andreas Stenger, project manager for digital business innovation at Lufthansa Technik, maintaining manual records might lead to the repeated repairs, delays, the possibility of accidents and unplanned expense.

Though few Airline companies have adopted digital technology, the system has still various loopholes.

The electronic-AMRs(EAMR) records are stored in multiple databases causing inefficiencies, time-consuming retrieval process and lack of transparency.

Author’s Bio

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Akash Takyar

CEO LeewayHertz

Akash has built over 100+ digital platforms used by millions of consumers. Akash is a core member and ambassador of Hedera Hashgraph and Hyperledger. Akash has invented a reverse geocoding algorithm used by Uber and Twitter. Akash is a technical architect and has been a consultant to McKinsey, 3M, Simens and Hershey’s. Akash holds a masters degree in computer applications.

Here are some of the shortcomings in the current aircraft maintenance record system

  • Data manipulation Airlines store EAMRs data in centralized databases which could be easily manipulated or compromised.
  • Slow Investigation – Since every stakeholder maintains their own database; it becomes time-consuming to extract the aircraft information, in case of an audit, or accident.
  • Inaccessible-  Agency involved in maintaining the Aircraft maintenance records can only own the information. Currently, it is difficult for other parties like manufacturers or airline companies to access or exchange the information quickly.
  • Paper-based records– Airlines maintaining paper-based records have chances of loss of relevant information.

The blockchain could be a possible solution to store aircraft maintenance records securely to bring trust and transparency in exchanging of the information.

Maintenance logs, manufacturing details, component details, and other sensitive information of the aircraft can be stored on the private or public blockchain. Using smart contracts, all stakeholders can seamlessly access the aircraft maintenance records.

Therefore, implementing a decentralized approach to maintain AMRs could be the right solution to bring efficiency and trust in the system. So, let’s understand how blockchain could solve the existing challenges in aviation.

Using Blockchain to store Aircraft Maintenance Records

For each aircraft, following Information can be saved on the blockchain:

  • The age of the aircraft
  • Flight inspection date
  • Last aircraft service and repair
  • Changed components
  • Manufacturer of the aircraft parts
  • Component repair history
  • Recommendation by the aircraft engineer
  • Accidental records
blockchain for aviation

How Blockchain Aviation could bring trust and transparency in the system

Blockchain aviation platform could have following stakeholders:

  1. Manufacturers
  2. MRO Service Providers
  3. Airline Company
  4. Customer
  5. Flight Auditor
  6. Buyer

Every member of the network could have different applications which run on the permissioned blockchain platform.

Read further to know how could different stakeholders use blockchain to maintain aircraft maintenance records.

1. Manufacturers:

Manufacturers of the aircraft could add the details like electrical wiring and components, hydraulic and air conditioning components, sheet metal fabrication, tube bending, and other mechanical data with respective manufacturing and expiry date on the blockchain. They will have their own private key to save the information on the blockchain.

Any other stakeholder who wants to access the data stored by the manufacturer would require the public key. Everyone who has access to the data can view it, but no one can alter or modify the data due to the blockchain’s immutability feature.

2. MRO Service Providers:  

MRO Service Providers play a crucial role in the maintenance and safety of the aircraft. Their job is to maintain, repair, and overhaul the airplane to ensure the safety of passengers.

MRO Service Providers could store the following details on the blockchain:

  • When was the plane last repaired?
  • Which components had malfunctions?
  • How much was spent on repairing the aircraft?
  • When would the next repair service be done?
  • What could be the longevity of the aircraft?

The information saved by MRO Service Providers could be consumed by Aircraft Buyer, Airline Companies, and Flight Auditors for different purposes.

For example, in case of an aircraft accident, flight auditors could access the repair and maintenance records of the plane to process the investigation process.

Since the immutable data stored on the blockchain uses time-stamping, any stakeholder could quickly get the historical records.

3. Airline Companies:

Airline Companies could consume the data stored by aircraft manufacturers and MRO Service Providers to perform cabin inspection before the flight takes off.

Manual inspection processing could be reduced as the pilot or aircraft commander could access time-stamped records of information whenever required.

Moreover, an airline company could also feed procurement data, flight logs, passenger’s information, and maintenance records on the blockchain.

4. Flight Auditor:

A flight auditor could consume the data saved by MROs and Airline Companies from the blockchain.

If any component gets damaged, the flight auditor could quickly find out where the problem would have occurred and why it happened.

With the help of captured information, they can also evaluate the fit status of a flight. Once the status is determined, it is updated on the blockchain.

5. Customer:

Smart contracts use information stored by auditor and airline company to display the aircraft’s health score. So, customers could check the score while booking a flight ticket.

6. Buyer:

A buyer would require verifying the mechanical and other essential components of the aircraft while buying it.

With the help of smart contracts, a buyer could seamlessly access the current and historical records of the aircraft. So, it is possible for them to make informed decisions from captured information.

Here’s how Technical Architecture of Blockchain Aviation could work

blockchain for aviation

Technical Components involved in building a blockchain-based Aircraft Maintenance solution

1. Database

Information related to manufacturing, repair, maintenance, components and its status could be stored in the database with a unique transaction ID saved on the permissioned blockchain. Any stakeholder willing to access the data will have to use the transaction ID for obtaining the required information.

2. Permissioned Blockchain

Permissioned blockchain allows only specific actions to be performed by a group of participants. In the case of Aircraft Maintenance Record System, only MRO service providers, airline companies, Airbus makers, auditors, and manufacturers can store or fetch the required information.

3. Smart Contract to provide data visibility to travel agencies and passengers

Smart Contract containing the set of business rules will decide what information each stakeholder can access.

For example, a passenger might not require the information about components used in the aircraft. Therefore, the smart contract will only display the airplane’s health score to the customer.

4. Public Blockchain

Any participant of the network can access the information stored on the public blockchain. Travel agencies can retrieve the status of every aircraft from the public blockchain. Travelers can then check the status of the flight they want to book using the mobile app or website of travel agencies.

Benefits to the different stakeholders

1. Passengers

Based on the health score of the aircraft, passengers could decide if it is safe to choose a specific airline for the next trip or not.

2. Airline Companies

Companies planning to lease or buy resale aircraft can use the maintenance information saved on blockchain to make a decision or calculate the estimated cost.

3. Air Crash Audits and investigation

In case of an investigation, information such as maintenance records, component details or aircraft repair logs could be retrieved quickly. The investigation process becomes faster and reliable.

4. MRO service providers

Easy-to-find- MROs could easily fetch the old maintenance records of the components.
Expenses- Data related to expenditure saved on Blockchain, could help calculate the annual cost of repair.
Audit and compliance- Enforcement of compliance are built in the smart contracts, which reduces complexity.

 

Blockchain could improve the aviation safety by making information transparent to the authorities and the travelers. LeewayHertz is building the next generation of blockchain apps, contact us for your blockchain development project.

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