Characterized as a shared ledger offering users a complete, time-stamped record of transactions and processes within it, blockchain has been tipped by many in the industry to make a tangible impact in the near future.
Among these are professional services company Accenture, which for two years' running, has cited blockchain as one of its emerging technologies and says adoption is accelerating at a quicker pace than anticipated. A research report published by the company earlier this year looking at 18 different industry sub segments showed 86% of aerospace and defense companies expect to integrate blockchain technology into their corporate systems by 2021.
The technology has also garnered the attention of the leasing industry, which places a heavy onus on parts traceability and digital records management.
Liam Creaven, SVP greater China and Asia at industry giant GECAS, says the company is open towards the implementation of blockchain technologies. To date for its records transfer, GECAS has used systems such as AerData’s STREAM offering. “If everybody was using blockchain then it would be very resilient and everyone could have confidence in it,” he said speaking at the lessor panel at MRO Asia in Singapore on Nov. 7. Despite GECAS’s enthusiasm for blockchain, Creaven says the current systems in place for digital records perform their functions effectively.
Creaven says GECAS is open to participating in developing blockchain strategies through the Aviation Working Group coalition of manufacturers, leasing companies and financial institutions to ensure a combined approach from lessors. However, on the wider topic of digital records, he believes North America and Europe are some way ahead of regions such as China and India in accepting them.“If there’s a big market that is reluctant to accept digital records then the lessors will hesitate because we need certainty that we can move our assets," he says.
Chris Gruener, EVP head of technical at Singapore-based lessor BOC Aviation, feels blockchain is a good concept in theory. “It’s great for components to have a history in this general ledger enabling someone to see things back to birth,” he says. “However, I don’t think it makes a lot of sense for one player to start the blockchain while other players don’t participate in it. If there is one transaction in the blockchain, and another outside, then the authorities won’t be accepting of it.”
Gruener believes more transparency is also required to enable visibility around functions performed by every participant in the chain for individual parts. To do this, “the privacy element of the blockchain would have to be removed to a certain extent,” he says.