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Air France explores blockchain potential for aircraft maintenance processes

Air France is exploring blockchain potential for the management of replacement parts on in-service airplanes, Aviation Today reported.

Air France KLM’s engineering and maintenance division is using its MRO Lab to experiment with the technology. The airlines uses MRO Lab to collaborate with universities, manufacturers and software developers to work on innovative ideas for the aviation industry.

James Kornberg, director of innovation of the Air France KLM business unit, said that his team is seeking to establish a clear blockchain business case for improving maintenance processes and work flows.

“The use case has to be realistic,” said Kornberg (as quoted by Aviation Today). “The four features of blockchain are resilience, traceability, integrity and disintermediation are well suited to the aviation supply chain.”

In a demonstration using blockchain and Microsoft Azure, Ramesh Sivasubramanian, a Ramco Aviation engineer, showed the process of an Air France aircraft coming under an aircraft on the ground (AOG) status due to a hydraulic system failure. Troubleshooting the mock situation revealed that the system needed a repair of an actuator.

Sivasubramanian further showed how an Air France engineer was able to acquire a replacement actuator by using a blockchain, which could be viewed by the different parties involved including the engineer, the AF KLM logistics and loan officers, and other engineer or technician involved in getting the replacement part to Air France.

Kornberg said AF KLM is seeking to determine how it can overcome the challenges in transitioning the existing system to a blockchain-based system.

“In the aviation industry we still have a lot of our data that is not digitalized, still a lot of analog data, the first step, and that’s what we’re doing at the moment — going to a fully digital solution, on all the supply chain and all the aviation data that we get," said Kornberg. "And before we do that, blockchain cannot be applied on non-electronic data."

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