Blockchain is causing headwinds in almost every sector of the global economy. The latest to feel the effect is the aeronautical sector. On February 4, an alliance of major partners in the aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) industry was launched. This Alliance aims to determine whether blockchain technology can be effectively used to track, trace, and record aircraft components and parts.
The MRO industry handles a staggering 25 billion parts annually. Due to the many challenges involved in its daily processes, the industry now considers turning to blockchain for help.
Going by the name MRO Blockchain Alliance, it will explore all the possible ways how blockchain can be implemented throughout the MRO chain. Starting from the manufacture of aircraft parts up to repairs and logistics will be covered in this expedition. Moreover, the Alliance will strive to determine how smart contracts can be used within the aviation industry.
According to a February 4 report, the MRO Blockchain Alliance comprises of industry leaders including FLYdocs, Bolloré Logistics, SITA, HAECO Group, and Cathay Pacific.
Blockchain May Save $3.5 Billion
The thought of setting up a dedicated blockchain alliance for the MRO industry was allegedly first put forward in 2019. The attendants at an event hosted by the major international aircraft maintenance and engineering firm Haeco Group discussed that possibility.
Since then, various international brands have signed onto that initiative. Those that have so far signed include Bolloré Logistics, law firm Clyde & Co, SITA, Willis Lease Finance Corporation, Cathay Pacific, software firm Ramco Systems, and FLYdocs.
The report focuses on research by PwC, which states that blockchain technology may save the MRO businesses almost 5% of their cumulative costs. That translates to $3.5 billion globally. If successful, it will increase revenue in the aerospace industry by up to 4% or $40 billion.
The same report further states that the Alliance will consider issuing aircraft parts with digital passports. Hence, the parts will serve to prove each part’s authenticity and offer a digital thread tracking its transport and custody history.
Making Blockchain Adoption in Aircraft Maintenance A Reality
The aviation industry is partially digitized, but data remains fragmented. Hence, the companies hope that blockchain technology will provide many benefits and solve different challenges. In that context, the president of air travel solutions for SITA, Matthys Serfontein, said:
“In an industry as interconnected as ours, the ability to share and record common data in a secure way without giving up control of that data is fundamental to driving new efficiencies in air travel. This is particularly true for the MRO sector.”
While speaking to journalists, a representative for SITA confirmed that the company had identified MRO as being among the five potential areas in aviation where blockchain technology may play a significant role. The other areas mentioned include the chain of custody (for luggage, cargo and aircraft), identity management, and flight operations.
SITA is a part of an Aviation Blockchain Sandbox founded in 2018. Since then, the company has done two notable pilot projects involving Hyperledger and Ethereum. The projects featured a “FlightChain” smart contract initiative with participation from Miami International Airport, British Airways, Geneva Airport, and Heathrow.
The initiative is primarily focused on using blockchain to enhance airports’ and airlines’ management and storage of flight status data.
Blockchain Alliances For Other Industries
Previous reports revealed the proliferation of blockchain alliances across industries and many diverse sectors. In February 2019, the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance (WSBA) joined blockchain consortium R3 aiming to create solutions and applications on their Corda platform.
In mid-December 2019, transnational IT firm Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) partnered with the Blockchain Game Alliance. That partnership aims to assist in the advancement of blockchain technology’s use in the gaming industry. Earlier in December 2017, several firms partnered to launch a blockchain food safety alliance.
Most recently, on January 22, the Singapore government partnered with several of the world’s major financial and manufacturing brands. That partnership resulted in the formation of an alliance to promote the adoption of digital technologies in international trade and commerce. That development spurred new partnerships between Singapore’s government, MasterCard, the International Chamber of Commerce, Mitsubishi and 14 other companies.
Together, they aim to investigate the potential of blockchain and many other nascent technologies. If implemented precisely, it will facilitate faster, more efficient, secure and transparent trade transactions throughout the world.