SITA, the air transport industry’s technology provider, announced the launch of a major industry research project to explore the potential of the blockchain. More than 100 top IT executives, attending SITA’s Customer Innovation Forum, were the first to be invited to join the Aviation Blockchain Sandbox.
SITA is investing in the infrastructure to accelerate industry-specific research into the viability of running multi-enterprise apps using distributed ledger technology, more commonly known as blockchain. The company is welcoming interested industry players to use the Aviation Blockchain Sandbox at no cost to them.
Barbara Dalibard, CEO, SITA, said: “Today we are inviting air transport organizations to work together so that we can collectively see how blockchain could work across our industry. Blockchain holds many promises but exploring these in individual organizations is not the most productive. As the technology company owned by airlines, SITA is in a position to work neutrally with multiple stakeholders to explore and test multi-enterprise applications. Through this collaborative innovation, we will accelerate the learning for all.”
The airline industry has a long history of sharing information across multiple stakeholders to increase efficiency. At times, however, it faces difficulties when proprietary business information needs to be extracted or multiple data sources conflict. One of the key benefits of blockchain technology is the ability to have multi-enterprise applications. These work across multiple organizations locking data immutably into the blockchain rather than having individual applications running separately and exchanging data on a case-by-case basis. This is how this technology can provide a ‘single source of truth’ to all stakeholders.
The Aviation Blockchain Sandbox will be led and managed by SITA Lab, SITA’s technology research team, and will develop in three stages. To start, SITA is opening the FlightChain project to airlines and airports in September. FlightChain was SITA’s blockchain trial, with British Airways, Heathrow, Geneva Airport and Miami International Airport, using smart contracts for shared control of data. It stored flight information on the blockchain to provide a single source of truth. Now SITA is making it easy for other airlines and airports to join this research and test FlightChain for their own use.
For the second stage of this collaborative innovation, SITA will work with organizations that wish to test smart contracts across a number of airline and airport operational use cases. During the third stage of the research, which is expected to start in late 2018, SITA will enable participants to run their own node. This will give the organizations the opportunity to become more involved and to participate in the running of the network, including becoming custodians. Throughout all stages the participating organizations can be assured that the data being used in the blockchain sandbox will be stored confidentially.
Dalibard concluded: “Since we published the results of the FlightChain research, many of our airline and airport customers have expressed an interest in exploring the opportunities of blockchain with us and some have already committed to the Aviation Blockchain Sandbox. We encourage airlines, airports, ground handlers, governments and other organizations with a role in the air transport industry to take advantage of this opportunity to innovate together.”