Air France KLM Experimenting Blockchain Use Cases for Aviation Industry

Air France KLM MRO division is looking to realistic use cases for blockchain technology in aircraft maintenance, processes and workflows.

Air France KLM is using its MRO lab to evaluate potential use cases of blockchain in the aircraft maintenance. The engineering team views digital distributed ledgers as ideal for recording and managing parts on in-service planes. The group has held discussions with Microsoft and Ramco Aviation on future use cases of DLT for the airline industry in improving maintenance, processes, and workflows. The airline industry is eager to tap into the capabilities of blockchain technology for realistic use cases.

Blockchain initially underpinned cryptocurrencies, as a means of keeping track of ownership and transfer of digital assets. But mainstream industries appreciate the innovation of distributed ledgers. Lufthansa and Air France are leading the airline industry to adopt the technology.

According to Aviation Today, James Kornberg, director of innovation of the Air France KLM said his team was cutting through the hype to uncover real uses cases.

"The four features of blockchain are resilience, traceability, integrity, and disintermediation are well suited to the aviation supply chain. The use case has to be realistic." 

Together with a team from Ramcon Aviation, they used Microsoft Azure Service and blockchain to demonstrate a replacement part digital record shared amongst engineers. Once a fault on a part was identified on a mock flight, the details of a replacement could be shared amongst Air France KLM logistics and loan officers, engineers and technicians. All that was required was a blockchain ledger initiated by an Air France engineer for the particular part. 

Airline executives are optimistic about combining cloud security and blockchain to reinforce airlines' cybersecurity protocols. Much of the industry is heavily dependent on analog data, that has to be ported into electronic form first before considering blockchain technology.

Klornberg admitted electronic data posed a challenge in transitioning to emerging technology - 

"In the aviation industry we still have a lot of our data that is not digitized, still a lot of analog data, the first step, and that's what we're doing at the moment — going to a fully digital solution, on all the supply chain and all the aviation data that we get."

It is an industry-wide problem so taking on the challenge as a group is ideal. A division of Lufthansa is working on bringing together software engineers, aircraft manufacturers, service providers and domain experts under the Blockchain for Aviation Initiative (BC4A).

The aviation industry may need to emulate how the world's largest banks have formed consortiums to take on blockchain uses cases.