From legacy firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) using blockchain for auditing services to the automotive giant like Porsche, which is testing an application that includes locking and unlocking a vehicle through blockchain; the technology seems to know no bounds. Another major industry that is witnessing the effects of blockchain is the aviation industry. In this connection, United Arab Emirates held a blockchain aviation conference which concluded on Thursday, April 4, 2019.
‘Blockchain: Unlock the Potential’, held in Abu Dhabi, discussed the increasing presence of blockchain in the aviation sector. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which is a United Nations specialized agency working to reach consensus on international civil aviation Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs), outlined a few objectives of the conference:
- Introducing the commercial, communication and efficiency potentials of blockchain technology to the global aviation industry.
- Gather both blockchain solution providers and the businesses looking to incorporate blockchain in aviation.
- A platform to collaborate and share knowledge among blockchain thought leaders, aviation industry and government agencies.
- Further a common understanding among Member States of application of blockchain technology.
- Promote a global governance framework in order to fasten the adoption of blockchain in the aviation sector.
The conference, according to the Emirates News Agency’s report, was attended by 800 individuals from almost 100 countries from ICAO’s member list, which includes Qatar, New Zealand, United States and Pakistan among others.
What Can Blockchain Offer the Aviation Industry?
The aviation industry is a rather complex one, where a large number of entities are connected in order to assure the delivery of quality travel products and services. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), from the moment passengers search online for an air ticket to the time they arrive at their destination, the airline is just one of around 26 business partners involved in the aviation chain.
According to the Blockchain in Aviation white paper, blockchain can be leveraged in the following parts of the aviation ecosystem.
Frequent Flyer Points
This is basically a part of the loyalty program and is designed to encourage airline customers to accumulate points which may then be redeemed for air travel or other rewards. Due to the continuous rise of passenger load on airlines, has become difficult for airlines to facilitate in the redeeming process. Through blockchain the process of earning, spending, accounting and reconciling frequent flyer points can be streamlined significantly. The white paper suggests that this can be achieved by tokenizing these assets into becoming digital and pervasive.
Baggage, Cargo and Spare Parts
Blockchain technology can also be used for tracking purposes.In the aviation ecosystem, it can facilitate in tracking the status and location of valuable assets like passenger baggage, cargo and even aircraft spare parts. This also provides an opportunity to enhance visibility and transparency as these types of items are moving constantly.
Blockchain can facilitate in the management of passenger and crew identification. It could streamline the entire process making it more efficient and secure at the same time.
Distribution and Payment
Blockchain will enable everyone that is involved in the traveling experience, airlines, travel agents and others, to better collaborate in order to co-deliver quality travel products and services. Furthermore, it has the capability to move payment towards being more transparent, real-time and low-cost.
Blockchain-Powered Initiatives for the Travel Industry
There are several blockchain-powered projects that are already live and are helping streamlining the travel industry.
This project claims to be the blockchain for aviation safety. They basically provide pilot’s flight logs in order to strengthen the security when hiring licensed private pilots or dealing with aircraft owners.
This blockchain project helps airlines when it comes to helping customers get compensation for canceled or delayed flights. Trustabit uses smart contracts on the blockchain to issue vouchers automatically to passengers whenever there is a flight disruption.
TripBit is a cryptocurrency-oriented project for the travel industry. The project proposes a mechanism which will facilitate payment all across the travel industry by including payments for flights, hotels and events that are in its scope via cryptocurrency.
Airlines Onboard with Blockchain
There are already several airlines in the business that are onboard with blockchain and are leveraging the technology to streamline the problems weighing them down.
Gazpromneft-Aero, who operates the Gazprom Neft aviation refueling business is working with S7 Airlines and Siberia Airlines to use a blockchain-based smart contract system for aviation fuel payments. The group calls the new kind of contract Aviation Fuel Smart Contracts, or just AFSCs for short.
Furthermore, Lufthansa, one of the world’s leading aviation service partnered up with SAP, a German-based European multinational software corporation, last year in order to launch a global competition named “Aviation Blockchain Challenge”, with an aim to incorporate blockchain technology in the aviation industry to tackle transparency issues.
In addition to that, Air New Zealand partnered with Winding Tree, which is a blockchain project with an aim to disrupt distribution and inventory management for the travel industry, with flights and hotels in its scope. The purpose of the partnership was to fasten transaction settlement and fee reduction.
Why the Blockchain Aviation Conference Was Held in UAE?
The event was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, and included the country’s minister of finance and an executive from Heathrow Airport as speakers.
The reason why the conference took place in UAE is because of the ongoing efforts of the authorities to implement blockchain at state level. Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, director general of the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), commented in the press release:
“Selecting the UAE is a testament to our leadership’s continuing efforts towards investing in new technologies across different domains including the aviation sector and in maintaining strong partnerships between the government and the private sector, and the continuous endeavors in exploring methods to improve aviation business practices in a dynamic and thriving environment”
Believe it or not, UAE has been extremely active when it comes to blockchain endeavors. Earlier this year in January, a blockchain competition was announced jointly by Smart Dubai and Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA) with an aim to attract innovative and new blockchain based startups from all over the world and to invite them to operate in Dubai.
Furthermore, waste management is another area where UAE is utilizing the blockchain technology. Earlier in February, two environmental, recycling and waste management companies join together to introduce the first-ever blockchain-based waste permit portal in Sharjah. The main aim of which was cost cutting for customers applying for permits with Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA), Sharjah’s free trade zone.
UAE is neither a stranger to blockchain conferences and summits nor is this the first time for the country to host something like this. In October last year, the World Blockchain Summit took place in Dubai, aimed at connecting the prominent thought leaders in the blockchain arena. Additionally different blockchain gurus and tech giants were also put in contact with each other through this summit.Emerging and promising startups were also given an opportunity to showcase their products to the world and ultimately gain the attention of heavy investors.
Two weeks prior to this blockchain aviation conference, Abu Dhabi was the host of yet another blockchain-related event. The United Arab Emirates Banks Federation (UBF) and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) joined forces and hosted a forum on crypto assets and fintech. The purpose of the event was to bring together industry specialists in order to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing fintech and crypto assets. . Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair, chairman of UBF stated at that time:
It is essential that we develop frameworks and regulations that govern these technologies and developments
It won’t be surprising if UAE emerges as a haven for digital assets and as a hub for blockchain technology.The country seems to be embracing blockchain technology in all its glory.