Blockchain for aircraft parts may be getting a bit more real. Data-digitizer FLYdocs and engine asset-manager Willis Lease Finance have partnered to develop a blockchain solution for part documentation. FLYdocs software coders will build the blockchain with the help of Microsoft-partner United Data Technologies. The plan is for a blockchain accessible only to trusted companies, with a pilot program available by May and a marketable product ready by early fall 2019.
Craig Gottlieb is a principal director in Accenture’s Aerospace & Defense practice who has been following blockchain for quite a while. He thinks FLYdocs and Willis may have hit on a workable approach. “Aircraft leasing is an intriguing area for distributed ledger technology, or blockchain,” Gottlieb says. “It fits very nicely into what makes for a good distributed ledger use case: multiple actors across the ecosystem, a need for trusted data, multiple validation and control points for those data, and a need to audit those data.”
There is a clear business case for both lessors and lessees to have more accurate and timelier data. Lessors can reduce time aircraft are off lease, increasing revenue, while lessees can reduce the cost of managing data and complying with lease terms.
Gottlieb argues that aircraft leasing may be ready to exploit four emerging technologies: blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), extended reality and quantum computing. He says each technology is important itself, and combined they could be very powerful.
For example, storing aircraft configuration and utilization data on a distributed ledger could enable lessors to use AI to understand exactly what maintenance is required at lease end. And lessors could use the data to feed extended-reality training services to lessees, increasing the value of leasing.
Gottlieb summarizes by saying aircraft leasing has characteristics that align very well with what distributed ledgers, or blockchains, do well. Lessors can enhance services, improve profits and create new value-added services for customers.