EASA to leverage blockchain tech for tracking aircraft parts

Europe continues its search for new blockchain use cases, with the latest foray coming in its aviation sector as the region seeks to crack down on using unapproved parts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) leads the charge with a new project to leverage blockchain to track aircraft parts and other components. Dubbed the VIRTUA project, EASA has onboarded blockchain firms SkyThread and FPT Software to provide technical expertise for the solution.

Per the announcement, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and PwC France will provide regulatory and compliance support for the novel project.

The EASA is keen to improve safety standards in the aviation industry, noting that integrating blockchain into its systems will offer the sector myriad benefits. Approved aircraft parts will be listed on a distributed ledger, allowing prospective purchasers to confirm their authenticity before finalizing a deal.

According to statistics, unauthorized aviation parts played a primary role in the over 20 aircraft accidents in the U.S., a trend that the EASA is keen to avoid.

“We believe that this project will provide a comprehensive vision of how blockchain solutions could contribute to addressing the issue,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior VP of Operations, Safety, and Security.

Aside from fake aircraft parts, the aviation industry currently grapples with the challenge of expired components. Aircraft parts have limited shelf life, but the EASA has identified a thriving secondary market for components nearing the end of their airworthiness.

“The implementation of blockchain technologies for the management of approved aircraft parts and components could impact the whole lifecycle of certificates, from their issuance by production organizations to the changes introduced by design or maintenance organizations,” said Nick Careen.

Several aircraft manufacturers in North America have previously relied on blockchain for provenance of their components, including Honeywell and GE Aviation, tracking the process from dismantling to the last maintenance stage.

The EU’s blockchain pilot regime

Given the diversity of use cases for blockchain, the European Union announced a blockchain pilot regime to explore its usage in financial markets.

In March 2023, the pilot regime gives the green light to market infrastructure operators to use blockchain in the issuance and settlement of tokenized financial instruments.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is currently experimenting with blockchain to launch the digital euro, given its qualities of immutability and privacy.

Across the continent, multiple uses for blockchain have sprung up in several sectors, including healthcare, education, logistics, and manufacturing.

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