San Francisco-based GI Aerospace is now developing a blockchain solution for tracking aircraft parts, TARA, and is planning to release an early-adopter version in the first quarter of 2019, according to chief technology officer Hadi Mohamed Shakir.
“We’re one of the first companies in the world to actively bring blockchain-based technology combined with standard procedural software that makes it real for the aviation industry,” Shakir explains. The GI CTO acknowledges there is a lot of hype around blockchain, but insists TARA is a “real-world implementation of an aircraft records platform and incremental innovation to bring further integration of blockchain for data integrity and security.”
TARA will be a software platform for electronic record-keeping of full lifecycle data on aircraft and component assets, with a focus on continuing airworthiness and maintenance records. For data integrity, blockchain will be used along with digital signatures.
The platform will have digital signatures based on a public key infrastructure with cryptographic hardware tokens to associate any action performed on a record with a specific person. TARA will use an electronic workflow system to route documents and tasks to relevant business units and will accept legacy records in digital format or digitized paper records to ensure continuity of records.
Further, TARA will maintain records of structural repairs and damages in both 3D and 2D models, and customers can upload these models for their assets. Finally, TARA will enable analysis of both the data and of its own workflows so processes can be improved.
TARA will be a private distributed ledger in which data is visible only to authorized members. Data will be sent on to members authorized for specific data. “Operators can pick and choose which asset or type of data to share with external organizations,” Shakir explains. For example, lessors will only be able to see assets they have leased to an airline, not all of an airline’s aircraft. A signature hash of data will be written to the blockchain ledger for all members, serving as evidence of data records and for audit purposes.
Sahkir expects customers to manage access to TARA. “However, blockchain enables data integrity monitoring by making any modifications to data, even by system managers, evident to all stakeholders, even while data itself is kept private.”
The GI CTO expects TARA to be used by aircraft operators, MROs, asset managers, lessors and regulators. He emphasizes it will allow easy integration with multiple applications with an open web-based API. Digital signatures will be based on a digital certificate module that uses the widely accepted international X.509 public key infrastructure standards.
GI is not actively reaching out to any potential customers until the beta release is ready. Shakir believes customer experience with TARA will be crucial in gaining acceptance. “There are a few interested parties in the industry to whom we’ve demonstrated the early versions of our product and who will experience it once ready.”