Microsoft has developed a solid infrastructure on its Azure Cloud platform for a variety of implementations of Blockchain and is now working with AFI KLM E&M and Ramco Systems on a test of Blockchain for providing back-to-birth records of aviation parts.
Richard Knight, Blockchain guru in Microsoft Asia, explains that Blockchain started out in 2008 as a way to track Bitcoin and other currencies. “However, in the last couple of years, there has been more interest in its distributed-ledger capabilities,” Knight says.
It is these distributed-ledger capabilities that many think make Blockchain a better way of tracking aircraft parts. Knight says the approach has several advantages. Cryptography can ensure authentic, authorized contributions to the ledger’s record of part transactions. The ledger can be shared among the many participants in aviation aftermarkets. Many copies of each part’s history are distributed. And the record is a read-write once, immutable record of each part’s background. Updates to the ledger can only be made when approved by consensus among those authorized to participate. It is thus ideal for parties that do not necessarily trust each other, Knight notes.
Because Microsoft has developed Azure to support many Blockchain use cases by other industries, Knight believes it could support the aviation aftermarket easily and quickly. The software giant has developed its Bletchley enterprise framework for managing the cryptographic keys that are essential to keep Blockchain records cyber-secure. Azure also has middleware with Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and other analytic capabilities already built in, so these would not have to be developed. And Azure is an open cloud, available for many apps. It is scalable, highly reliable and has the minimal latency necessary for speedy service.
Azure is now supporting Blockchain applications for financial, manufacturing, retail and health companies and for government agencies. Several applications, for instance in retail, are track-and-trace programs similar to the aviation aftermarket challenge.
Ramco Systems recently demonstrated the ease and practicality of using Azure and Blockchain for handling an emergency AOG part, which must be secured by loan and then replenished from airline stock.