Blockchain in aviation will open up new waves of opportunities like maintenance transparency, flight data security, reduction in instances of flight overbooking, helping the industry to boost its efficiency and accuracy levels.
While customers expect comfortable, painless, and hassle-free travelling experience, the aviation industry focusses on revolutionizing the operations, right from ticket booking to check-in to onboard processes. The advancement in cutting-edge, incredible technologies has helped the aviation industry to make revolutionary modifications in flight services, enhancing customers’ inflight experience and keeping them happy. Today, passengers have the freedom to book their flight tickets with the help of mobile-based apps from anywhere, anytime, which was earlier not possible. Traditionally, they had to visit the travel agencies for information acquisition and ticket booking. Passengers are now given online check-in option through messaging platforms, which helps them to reserve their seats well beforehand. Besides, the airline industry provides customers the power to connect and interact with flight members for ordering food and drinks according to their preferences. Furthermore, VR in aviation is providing immersive experiences to customers, entertaining them, and improving their journey experience. While all of these incredible innovation helped in improving audience engagement and experience, the aviation industry has adopted smart and sophisticated technologies to disrupt the flight operations also. For example, AI is now plays a role of a co-pilot, assisting pilots to make decisions while landing. Apart from that, AI has also been used to help pilots in understanding the weather conditions and choosing the safest route to destination.
While technologies like AI, IoT, VR are showcasing their possibilities and potential, the airline industry witnesses another technology - blockchain - that promises to bring in revolution and innovation never seen before. Blockchain in aviation has the potential to not only secure flight data and payment transactions, but also simplify flight functioning by introducing the additional elements of security, transparency, and reliability.
Though many know about bitcoin and other digital currencies, very few comprehend the concept of blockchain. Hence, before diving deep into how blockchain impacts the airline industry, it is mandatory to understand what the technology is all about and what it offers? Technically, blockchain is a digital record keeping system that accumulates data in the form of blocks, that is secured by the cryptographic validation technique. The tight validation method keeps the stored data safe and secure from attackers. Put simply, if ‘A’ wants to store any information on a blockchain network, then she has to first enter the provided authentication code. If the entered code is incorrect, then she will not be given the access right to enter the network. Besides, one of the most sophisticated features of blockchain is immutability. Data stored on the network cannot be altered or deleted. This enables participants to have an improved visibility on the stored data. Any tampering with the data will be notified to the members of the network almost instantaneously, thereby ensuring 100 percent data security.
Regardless of the mode of transport, special attention is paid to passenger safety and comfort. And the aviation industry is no exception. Passengers, before boarding the plane, have to go through the hassles of security checking process. Though inconvenient, the process has to be mandatorily carried out. Along with this, the industry has to safeguard passenger’s personal information against data attacks. Given the pace at which data breaches across various industries, the airline industry has to practice advanced security measures, ensuring that third parties or hackers do not steal the data.
Second, the airline industry is piled under intense pressure to deal with the baggage loss problem. The airlines have to fix the issue by reimbursing the passengers, thereby losing a lot of money. According to the IBM report, this issue cost the global airline industry more than 2.5 billion US dollars every year. Besides, instances like lost baggage leads to heavy customer dissatisfaction and loyalty issues. The employees have to be, therefore, watchful while carrying out the sorting process. Every detail about passengers and their respective baggage should be maintained digitally while ensuring that the data will not be tampered.
These, and a few more mentioned later, challenges need assistance of advanced and sophisticated technology like blockchain. Let’s check how blockchain can solve the concerns that are faced by airlines.
Since blockchain presents great prospects for securing data, the airline industry can leverage this technology for their advantage.
Probably, everyone knows about the tragedy of the missing Malaysian Airlines 370. Lack of live updates about the flight could be the prime reason for this unsolved mystery. What happens today is, the airline industry stores data on a centralized database. Due to this, during emergencies, the chances of data loss increases. Something similar happened with MH370. The authorities were not able to recover the data. Therefore, the airlines can use the blockchain technology to store the data that is collected in real-time, encrypt it, and save it on multiple computers. Besides, not only the aircraft data, but every other vital information about passengers and crew members can be stored on a blockchain network.
Every baggage will comprise of a unique code, which will be encrypted and stored on a blockchain network. During the check-in process, the luggage will be scanned and the location of it will be updated to the system in real-time. Every detail about the baggage, ranging from its unique code to the current location, will be updated on the blockchain network. The authorities and passengers can easily locate their luggage, if gone missing.
In 2017, there was a case where a man was forcibly dragged off a plane by three security officers. After the investigation, it was found that the ticket was overbooked by 4 passengers. Ticket overbooking popped up to be the severe problem that the airline industry is facing now, since then. Blockchain’s incredible application, smart contracts, can be used to fix the ticket overbooking problem. A smart ticketing system, executed by smart contracts, can be used by people to issue tickets. This method will eliminate the manual methods of ticket issuing, which will also increase the accuracy and efficiency levels.
The adoption of blockchain in aviation will eliminate the pain and hassle of passengers waiting for long hours to verify their documents. Passenger details like biometric data, required documents, and the ticket will be stored on a blockchain network. People while entering the airport can enter the unique code, for verifying themselves. The airport authorities, who are a member of the network, will be able to enter the check-in details for passenger’s further references.
The introduction of smart contracts automates paper-based airline operations, allowing airport authorities to take up other roles. As a result of this, increased productivity, accuracy, and efficiency will be achieved. It is impressive to see the role of blockchain in aviation, offering so many benefits and use cases for the industry. Referring all of these, blockchain in aviation is the perfect technology that fits the aviation industry really well, indeed!
Naveen is the Founder and CEO of Allerin, a software solutions provider that delivers innovative and agile solutions that enable to automate, inspire and impress. He is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience, with extensive experience in customizing open source products for cost optimizations of large scale IT deployment. He is currently working on Internet of Things solutions with Big Data Analytics. Naveen completed his programming qualifications in various Indian institutes.