Blockchain technology as a combination of existing technologies including encryption, decentralized data management and consensus building was introduced 2008 (Nakamoto 2008). It is the underlying core mechanism for Bitcoin and was first implemented in 2009. Blockchain is characterized by its decentralization, anonymity, auditability, persistency and therefore its ability to save costs and improve efficiency (Zheng et al. 2017). Today, blockchain technology is broadly considered a promising technology that can be applied to manifold applications beyond cryptocurrencies (Androulaki et al. 2018; Zheng et al. 2017).
Due to the transparency and redundancy of blockchain, previously required intermediaries become obsolete. This enables the technology to be used in several business areas, such as the supply chain of the aviation industry. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) states that component maintenance costs account for the second largest share (24%) of airlines’ direct maintenance costs (IATA 2015). As a result of its special properties, the aviation industry is particularly suitable for digitizing processes with the help of blockchain.
The safety of aircrafts and their components plays a central role in the aviation industry: To ensure this safety, a complete life cycle documentation for safety-relevant parts is required which is essential for further usage. The current analog process for documentation of workshop events is error-prone and leads to the devaluation of high-priced aircraft parts. Due to the intense competitive situation and the large number of stakeholders involved, the implementation of a central digital solution has not been successful yet.
Therefore, we are currently evaluating a decentralized solution based on the blockchain technology. In cooperation with Freie Universität Berlin, the implementation of a Proof of Concept with the framework Hyperledger Fabric has been very successful. The following figure shows the high-level architecture of this PoC.
The Blockchain Certification Storage System (BCSS) consists of an Angular Frontend, Java Spring Boot Backend and a Hyperlegder Fabric Blockchain (Wickboldt and Kliewer 2018; Wickboldt and Kliewer 2019). The system is distributed along the supply chain of the aviation industry, with participants such as airlines, mechanics and traders.
In order to prove that the PoC meets the business requirements, utility, quality, and efficacy of the PoC is demonstrated via performance benchmarks. The following figure shows the system architecture for a setup with four organizations on four phyical machines:
Evidence of the evaluation via performance benchmarks proves that the PoC meets the specified requirements.