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Usability of Blockchain in Aviation

With so much technology surrounding us, emerging ideas and products are taking the lead in the innovation market. Blockchain is called and seen as the biggest innovation since the birth of the internet, but as promising as it looks, as less most people know about it. If you are asking yourself what the definition of blockchain is, we have a simple interpretation of it: a specific type of database.

What makes it different than any other database?

All data is stored in a block and all blocks are chained together. So, imagine a chain of ciphers, where the first cipher contains valuable information and the key for it is locked on the second cipher together with another piece of information. The key of the second cipher will then be contained in the third one and so on until the end, and just taking a cipher out of the chain, will break it. Once the data is stored in the chunks, the system automatically makes an irreversible timeline that can’t be modified, so the operations are permanent, and the history of transactions will be available to all users.

What features does blockchain come with?

Decentralization is one of the most discussed features of blockchain, and we’ll try to make it clearer in simple words. Every database needs to be stored on a computer, so a series of computers/servers are required to form a blockchain. Decentralization means that if a company has 5000 computers to store the database of their clients, they are not all stored under the same roof, but spread all over the world in different locations. In this case, these computers are called nodes, and they are all operated by separate individuals or groups of people. There are also cases where centralization is in place, and the owner manages private blockchains with all servers operating under the same network.

Transparency is the next thing that came after decentralization, as all transactions can be transparently seen by nodes or any blockchain explorer that has the possibility to show live transactions. In terms of security, using encryption will provide extra shields of defense for all users, as mathematical algorithms translated into cryptography are used as firewalls.

How blockchain is used in aviation?

The aviation industry is a complex world that involves lots of partners and stakeholders when delivering products and services to customers. Most of the time, a product like an airplane ticket as it’s seen by the customer, requires more than 20 different entities to co-work and co-deliver the services as one. These separate businesses are then forming a chain in the industry, so sharing and accessing information between them can be more efficient due to blockchain technology.

There are multiple sectors where blockchain technology is already implemented, like frequent flyer points, payment, baggage, passenger and crew identification, and even smart contracts. The technology allows the organizations to share the status of shipments, for better transparency and visibility of the assets. In terms of payments, the actors can have better visibility of how the money is split among businesses.

Privacy and security are also big assets when talking about blockchain, as the blocks can store the passenger's or crew's information and encrypt them. We mentioned early the idea of smart contracts as well, and in a few words, this technological process can save time and money, as the contracts between partners can be self-executable, by taking into consideration pre-defined conditions. So as an example, the payment process between an airline and suppliers, such as airports or ground services can become automated after the confirmation for the delivery of processes is made by a source of truth.

If you want to know more about blockchain in aviation, this white paper created by IATA can give you more hints about this topic.

Blockchain and SkyRoster

One of the ideas that can be applied on SkyRoster is the possibility for ATCOs to save their licenses in the application and with the use of blockchain technology, the data to be shared with the aviation authority of each state, for quick and real-time detection of license status and validity. As SkyRoster already has implemented the automatic renewal process, the only step left is to create the nodes between ANSPs and CAAs.

In a nutshell

There are already a few projects and companies that are stepping into the world of blockchain in aviation, and the future in terms of safety, security, and smart transactions look bright.

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