The grounding of a commercial airline because of missed maintenance can cost millions in revenue as flights are delayed or cancelled. But what if aircraft maintenance could be predicted and scheduled in advance in a fully automated fashion? Using blockchain, advanced analytics, the Internet of Things and Big Data, this can be done.
At IBM Research in Zurich, we use blockchain as an irrefutable ledger to record flight events, operational conditions and maintenance actions. These events are captured in a blockchain and shared across ecosystem partners, including the original equipment manufacturer, the airline, and the maintenance provider. Alerts are raised automatically using “smart contracts” that run on the blockchain when an inspection or maintenance check is due.
Combining these capabilities with a machine-learning algorithm that uses flight schedules, weather data, landing history and the quality of the runway, one can forecast well in advance when mechanical parts, such as landing gear, will need to be serviced.
Moreover, the availability of all relevant transactions in a common ledger allows the extraction of provenance trails for parts and entire airplanes in a matter of minutes or even seconds, a task that otherwise can take days, weeks, or even months if the information must be collected and curated across many parties.