How blockchain can improve the aviation industry

The aerospace industry is vast (in 2018, revenues were US$838 billion), complex, and interconnected — and growing rapidly. Demand for new commercial aircraft may reach approximately 40,000 planes over the next 20 years. As they expand, the companies that manufacture, operate, and service aircraft are seeking out AI, 3D printing, and other capabilities, technologies, and tools that will allow them to optimize performance. There’s another cutting-edge technology they should consider: blockchain.

What does blockchain, most closely associated in the public mind with cryptocurrencies, have to do with the process of moving 250-ton machines through the air? Simply put, what the aerospace industry doesn’t know about its planes is costing it serious money. Having a more accurate view of a plane’s configuration and maintenance history could help reduce costs and losses, boost asset availability and increase the value of planes in the secondary market and at the end of leases, and improve worker productivity. And blockchain has some unique attributes that will enable it to serve as a powerful tool for the industry. PwC analysis has found that efficiency gains enabled by blockchain could increase industry revenue by as much as 4 percent annually, or $40 billion, while cutting maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) costs by about 5 percent annually, or $3.5 billion. So it’s not surprising that nearly a quarter (24 percent) of aerospace and defense executives who participated in PwC’s fall 2018 Digital Trust Insights Survey said blockchain was critical to all of their lines of business, compared with 20 percent for all respondents across sectors.

Those who embrace the power of a blockchain-enabled ecosystem stand to gain from its unique benefits. First among this group are the operators — airlines and air cargo carriers — who will reap the revenue associated with increased aircraft availability. But other participants in the ecosystem could also…

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