Airlines and airports are working on outdated methods of collecting and distributing information, using many isolated operating systems where data exchange can be timely and unsafe, despite a 170% increase over the last 20 years of travel abroad in the United States.  The main competitors have recognized that the characteristics of the aeronautics sector are in line with the blockchain, which has the potential to simplify the sharing of data between information silos in airports – and with secondary travel companies in the broad sense – for create a safe and uninterrupted travel experience.
Lufthansa Industry Solutions, a subsidiary of the largest airline in Europe, has launched the Blockchain for Aviation (BC4A) initiative in an attempt to compile potential applications of technology and to create industry standards for its use. Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, Eurowings, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines have partnered with the non-profit Winding Tree based in Switzerland, which uses blockchain to power a decentralized tourist distribution network to make travel more profitable and profitable for customers and providers.
The world's airlines carry over three billion passengers a year and contribute $ 664.4 billion to global GDP. Airlines need to be flexible – yet systematic – to compete in the aviation sector, where the efficiency of their chain of operations determines their balance sheet.
Smart contracts to improve customer experiences
Airports are microcosms of data storage. From the moment a traveler arrives at an airport upon departure, an enormous amount of secure data must be collected and shared between internal and external airport operations. The biggest obstacle for airlines lies in decision-making processes when travel plans change with notice.
Every activity inside an airport can operate using different software, so the process of data reconciliation is often timely and frustrating both for flight agents and for travelers. Smart contracts can improve customer experience and the cost of service by automating time-consuming tasks.
Ordinary misadventures such as flight delays and overbooked flights are expensive for airlines when data is not shared quickly between decision makers. Currently, there is a lack of cohesion between mixed data and the multitude of systems used at different control points in airports.
The world's leading communications and information specialist at airports, SITA, has addressed the simple and widespread question of corresponding information on flight delays at airports. SITA has used the Ethereum protocol and smart contracts to create a blockchain platform that reconciles conflicting information on flight delays and communicates "a unique source of truth for flight data."
SITA Lab designed an authorized private blockchain, called Flightchain, to conduct tests and track over two million flight changes between British Airways, Geneva Airport, Heathrow Airport and Miami , the results of which suggest that smart contracts could be effective for mediating conflicting data and communicating industrial standards, but require governance and operational supervision.The data sharing services are easier to arbitrate and manage.
A French insurance company , AXA, is using smart contracts to automate communications – retirement for passengers whose flights are delayed. A smart contract linked to global air traffic databases is created to cover its flight delay insurance platform, Fizzy. If a delay of more than two hours is recorded in the register, the compensation is automatically transferred to the customer, which eliminates the need to file a complaint or contest any discrepancies with the insurer.
Russia's largest Russian airline, S7, has partnered with Alfa Bank to launch a blockchain platform to issue tickets. The private blockchain, built using the Ethereum protocol, uses smart contracts to exchange data between the contracting parties and will reduce settlement time between the airline and agents selling tickets from 14 days to 23 seconds.
In a press release from S7, the airline stated that the technology "offers agents the opportunity to work directly with the airline without providing additional financial guarantees, reduces the volumes of circulation of documents and ensures the safety of operations . "
An airline software company in Atlanta, Volantio, piloted a new program for United Airlines in place of a debacle overbooking that led to the forced removal of a passenger from a flight. The "Flex-Schedule" platform uses the AI to identify flexible passengers and direct them with flight options to help airlines correct incorrect calculations in their reservation processes.
The fully automated service compensates passengers and reassigns them to new flights, maximizing airline profits by allowing them to sell seats open to last-minute last-passing passengers. Volantio is also a partner of Emirates, Alaska Airlines, Ethiopia Airlines and Jetstar, and its innovation could prove essential to eliminate last-minute negotiations at the gate, which inevitably delay flights and are expensive for airlines.
Monetization of frequent loyalty points for pilots with digital currencies
Delta Air Lines is the first major global carrier to replace the passenger loyalty program, Skymiles, with digital currency. The airline will reward frequent travelers with Ethereum tokens nicknamed "SkyMirage", which will cut American Express as an intermediary, improve the security of the exchange and allow passengers to see their loyalty points accumulate instantly.
Similarly, Singapore Airlines announced will launch a blockchain-based passenger loyalty app that will allow customers to digitize their frequent glider awards and spend them on Singapore Airline's trading partners.
Transparency in baggage tracking
In collaboration with Winding Tree, Air New Zealand is studying how the blockchain can improve the monitoring of goods and baggage.
While it was still under development, the application of blockchain could potentially allow passengers to trace their baggage in order to provide maximum transparency during the transfer process. In addition, smart contracts could be used to automate insurance claims on lost baggage and instantly compensate customers.
Aircraft maintenance sub-aircraft efficiency
Air France-KLM engineering and maintenance division is experimenting with potential uses for blockchain to record aircraft maintenance and servicing processes. Much of the routine data collected on aircraft maintenance does not exist in digital format, such as service records, aircraft components and systems. An airline spokesperson admitted that a fully digital system would not be an easy transition, but that blockchain could dramatically improve "maintenance processes and workflows".
Avoiding airport queues with passport checks "without a door"
Passenger safety and flight operations are mainly in the aviation sector, but creating a simpler airport experience for travelers is another important goal of airlines. A UK-based technology company, ObjectTech, has signed an agreement with the Dubai Immigration and Visa Department to test its "doorless" border program that uses biometric verification and blockchain technology to completely bypass the process of passport. The pilot program will use facial recognition technology to identify travelers arriving in Dubai and verify their identity against a digital passport. Using the blockchain, the digital passport is created as a self-sufficient identity, ensuring the owner a singular control of their data.
Paperless identification for effortless travel
Similarly, SITA Lab is experimenting with its digital identity card built on a blockchain platform called the SITA Digital Identity Traveler app. In collaboration with ShoCard, SITA aims to improve the way travelers are identified at various points within airports by creating a mobile token that stores biometric and personal information. SITA has also launched other projects to enable mobile phones self-service for visa verification and border control.
Safety in small airports and responsibility of private pilots
A blockchain startup named Aeron reported that 57% of aircraft accidents are due to human error. has created a 'mobile app designed to record and verify the qualifications of a pilot in an attempt to reduce accidents due to poor management of logs. The app, which works using blockchain, stores all the pilot data needed in digital form – data that largely exist in the traditional paper pilot on board journals The company is also developing a global database for storage of information on aircraft, pilots and flight schools. Aeron's developments are geared towards private flights and counting for private pilots, and has launched an online market for private card reservations.
The need for further development
The ability of the blockchain to rapidly reconcile conflicting data and verify the consistency of information between the various stakeholders in airports is a promising innovation for the aeronautics sector. The immutable and transparent nature of distributed ledger technology can ensure greater flight safety, but many data collection processes still remain indigested and isolated from one another. Smart contracts could drastically improve customer experience and replace timely and costly services, but would require central governance from an accredited organization, along with a lot of maintenance and oversight.
Blockchain has application in a multitude of airport information niches, but further development by industry leaders is necessary to create feasible and cost-effective uses of the technology.