SITA To Industrialize Blockchain For Aviation Aftermarket

SITA has been cooperating with the MRO Blockchain Alliance, comprised of several aviation players, since early 2020.
Credit: SITA

After years of hopeful speculation about the benefits of blockchain for the aviation aftermarket, a major IT player with technical expertise and wide industry connections and knowledge is planning to move forward with deployment. 

SITA has transferred responsibility for its aftermarket blockchain project from innovation specialist Sean Melia to Pierre-Yves Benain, portfolio director for aircraft data management, who is in charge of industrializing the solution.

More details of the industrialization plan will be made at MRO Europe in October, and a white paper on the subject is expected at the conference. 

SITA has been cooperating with the MRO Blockchain Alliance, which includes HAECO Inventory Technical Management, Willis Lease Finance, FLYDocs, Bolloré Logistics, Cathay Pacific Airways and Ramco Systems, since early 2020.

In late 2020, the Alliance completed two proofs of concepts for blockchain implementation, that of a digital thread and a digital passport.

Benain says SITA still has a number of “gates” to go through for deployment, but these gates and their timing are still confidential.

The Alliance is highly motivated, and “we are the neutral vehicle, we know the technology, we know the industry well and we have the expertise. Yes, it will happen.”

SITA and the Alliance are committed to use Spec 2000 standards for the solution. At one of the earliest meetings of the Alliance, Melia says all participants agreed to use Spec 2000. “It was the consensus. We already exchange data with Spec 2000. We use it for the supply chain. It would be too disruptive to replace it.” In addition, digital certificates such as FAA Form 8130 and EASA Form 1 use Spec 2000. 

Melia acknowledges that Spec 2000 could be better and needs updating. For example the schemas for repair orders were established in 1990, when there was not so much outsourcing. But he says Spec 2000 is continually evolving and is workable now for blockchain use. 

The only major hurdle left to overcome is to create the user community, Benain argues. “We have the consortium, we will leverage that little by little to bring others on board. The technology presents no difficulty.” 

Some aftermarket participants are already modernizing, while others are not. Benain says SITA will start with the innovators that have a digital strategy, then approach the others.

On alternative promoters of blockchain for the aftermarket, Benain says, “we are the only one that has demonstrated that it works. None of the others has proven anything. We have proved digital passports and full track and trace. Everybody talks about it. We have done it.”