Today much of the information critical to keeping an aircraft in flight is collected manually, an expensive and time-consuming process. The data showing a plane’s history and condition are spread across up to 40 systems, in the hands of multiple parties who may be competitors reluctant to share data. Mercenary resellers take advantage of airlines and MROs because there is no central clearinghouse of aircraft components. Maintenance is reactive, and it is hard to know which planes are affected when regulators or manufacturers require supersession of a part.
Blockchain, a digital ledger of transactions taking place in a peer-to-peer network, can record each time a part is installed or removed from an airplane. It can also capture how long the part being replaced was in service and the identity, location and credentials of the technician performing the repair.
It’s like having a digital ‘birth certificate’ for every part, updated every time the plane is serviced or inspected. These birth certificates can be aggregated into a ‘digital twin’ of the aircraft that provides a real-time snapshot of its condition from the moment it exits the assembly line to when it is returned to its lessor or retired from the fleet.
Having a more accurate view of a plane’s configuration and maintenance history could:
Blockchain technology, with biometric identity verification, could make it practical to ensure that the identity of every person who interacts with a plane – and the status of their credentials –becomes part of the real-time snapshot of its condition.
In addition to knowing the provenance and history of a part, parties with appropriate permissions could also see in an instant the verified identity and qualifications of the person who installed or serviced it.
PwC's 2018 Global Blockchain Survey illuminated some of the key steps to focus on to help ensure a successful blockchain project.
A picture of each plane’s configuration and maintenance history, accurate up to the second, would make it easier to predict when serious maintenance issues could ground a plane, and to analyse its condition and diagnose potential issues during MRO.
Rachel Parker Sealy
Industrial Products Technology Principal, PwC United States
Tel: +1 (314) 206-8183
US Aerospace and Defence Leader Partner, PwC United States
Tel: +1 (703) 918 1976