The aviation industry could be one of the highest adopters of blockchain projects over the next few years compared to other industries. Blockchain, a type of distributed ledger that allows companies to input data and securely share the asset’s records across partners, could have a profound impact on the global aviation supply chain.
Based on an Accenture survey of 18 industries, 86% of large aerospace and defense companies surveyed plan to integrate blockchain into their organization’s systems within the next three years—making it the third highest adopter. Breaking it down, 13% of aerospace and defense respondents expect to integrate blockchain into their systems this year, 50% in one to two years, and 23% in two to three years.
Only the semiconductor and healthcare payor industries outpaced it at 88% each.
The aviation industry’s high adoption rate is not necessarily surprising, when you think about the criticality of parts authenticity, traceability and integrity across the supply chain, said John Schmidt, global managing director of Accenture’s aerospace and defense practice.
Blockchain’s immutable and decentralized characteristics make it suitable for authenticating parts, maintenance records and aircraft configuration.
For the aviation aftermarket, Schmidt thinks blockchain will be a “game changer, enabler or threat,” because when you have clear, available asset records that are shared across partners, it “removes a little bit of differentiation for an MRO,” as well as “tribal knowledge” from maintaining the asset in the past.
While blockchain, as a technology itself, is not a big deal, “what is a big deal are the things that it allows us to do in providing authenticity and assuredness in the supply chain,” said Schmidt.
In particular, he sees blockchain as an integral enabler for recording accurate and traceable data across an asset’s lifecycle, which is paramount to digital twins—and a digital thread—for an asset’s lifecycle. Without verified and trusted data, digital twins and predictive maintenance could be inaccurate. “Blockchain enables companies to securely share, capture and authenticate data from a single source,” said Schmidt.
The survey was answered by 30 aerospace and defense professionals from large OEM and tier one companies that generate about 75% of the industry’s global revenues. While airlines were not included, Schmidt thinks the overall industry is exploring, and using, blockchain for the same types of applications.