February 4, 2020

Blockchain aircraft maintenance alliance to explore the technology’s $3.5bn potential

By Lucy Ingham

An alliance of key partners in the aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) industry has been launched today to determine whether blockchain can be used to track, trace and record aircraft parts.

Known as the MRO Blockchain Alliance, it will explore how blockchain can be applied throughout the MRO chain, from the manufacture of aircraft parts through to repairs and logistics. It is also exploring how smart contracts can be used within the industry.

While it can seem like every industry under the sun is looking at blockchain, the benefits for aircraft MRO are potentially significant.

According to PwC, blockchain could be used to cut MRO costs by $3.5bn worldwide – around 5% of overall costs – and boost revenue within the aerospace industry by as much as 4%, or $40bn.

Making blockchain in aircraft maintenance a reality

The alliance was first proposed in 2019 at an event held by HAECO Group, one of the world’s leading aircraft maintenance and engineering companies, and is formed of some of the biggest players within the aircraft MRO industry.

In addition to HAECO Group, members include Bolloré Logistics, Cathay Pacific, FLYdocs, Ramco Systems, SITA and Willis Lease Finance Corporation. International law firm Clyde & Co is also providing support.

Over the next few months, the alliance with develop and launch a proof-of-concept blockchain solution that will enable the tracking of aircraft parts across the industry, both when they are being moved and maintained.

This will involve a host of different players in the aerospace industry, including lessors, airlines and original equipment manufacturers.

It will see each part be given both a digital passport, which verifies it as the authentic part it is being represented as, and a digital thread, which provides a complete history of where it has been and who it has been in the custody of.

This will represent a dramatic change for the industry, which currently has no global database, only partial digitalisation and only sees partial sharing of such data. As a result, it is hoped that the blockchain solution could bring dramatic benefits for the aircraft MRO industry, which handles 25 billion parts a year.

“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,” said Matthys Serfontein, president of Air Travel Solutions for SITA.

The alliance plans to have the first proof-of-concept live in the second quarter of 2020.

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