While cryptocurrencies remain volatile, their underlying technology – the distributed ledger called the blockchain – has a more certain future of expansion into other sectors.
The aviation aftermarket is no exception, with blockchain technology offering the chance to enhance visibility and traceability in the supply chain.
According to the cryptocurrency press, the first big step has been taken in this regard, with GE Aviation Digital and Microsoft Azure teaming up to develop a blockchain to track parts in GE engines.
“Our vision is being able to trace parts as they are manufactured and the engine when it’s shipped. Then how that engine performs in the field, when to repair it and then re-enter it into the field,” David Havera, blockchain CTO of GE Aviation Digital told CoinDesk.
Blockchain is essentially a shared ledger that offers users a complete, time-stamped record of the transactions and processes within it. Each time-stamped event forms a block in the chain, which is almost virtually impossible to retroactively alter. For an aviation part, these events might include production, removal, testing, repair and re-installation.
Havera said that one of the main goals of the new blockchain was to improve traceability and record-keeping, adding that GE holds “tens of millions of dollars” of used parts that can’t be sold because they lack proper paperwork.
From Havera’s comments, it also appears that the new GE solution will operate under its TRUEngine program, and initially roll out to three of four airlines with GE maintenance agreements.
These airlines and GE will most likely access data within a secure business network visible to authorised participants. One advantage of such a private network would be much faster updates to the shared ledger than occur with bitcoin, whose massive user base has suffered from slow validation of transactions.