In 2018 Honeywell Aerospace launched a blockchain to support its GoDirect Trade online portal for aircraft parts. Airlines have to keep records of the maintenance of all aircraft parts, no matter where in the world the work is performed.
The first iteration of Honeywell’s blockchain stored PDF documents and references to the digital aircraft record. But at the outset, the company planned to extract the data from the PDF and store the individual elements enabling it to be fully searchable. That’s what is being announced today.
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For decades, aerospace companies and their customers have drowned in cumbersome documentation processes and storage mechanisms. Honeywell (NYSE: HON) is solving those problems by fully integrating aircraft record generation into its digital blockchain ledger. This provides Honeywell’s customers with an easy way to search and retrieve scattered data through a simple user interface, creating a level of speed and efficiency never before available in the aerospace industry.
Quick and easy access to this data is critical for airlines because most use dozens of repair facilities, and the paperwork from each is not integrated. Additionally, airlines and operators commonly deal with lost, printed paperwork associated with a part. This paperwork, or “trace documents,” are critical to maintaining the value of a part’s worth.
Honeywell’s blockchain is a secure, decentralized database crowd-sourced by all its authorized users. Each user that Honeywell allows has a copy of the database and knows its contents in real time. Instead of storing only PDF documents or a reference to the digital aircraft record, Honeywell now stores the actual form data “on chain.” This data is used to re-construct aircraft records, including records that prove the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has certified that aircraft parts are safe to fly. These records can be accessed by customers, and in the case where paperwork is missing, customers can simply input the part number and serial number and the user interface will retrieve the data from the blockchain and “rebuild” the missing document.
“Honeywell’s offering is like a search engine, but it works for anything and everything related to aircraft parts and service,” said Lisa Butters, general manager for Honeywell’s GoDirect Trade and applications owner for blockchain technologies. “Honeywell manufactures and repairs thousands of aerospace parts each day, and now all of those events, including the generated air worthiness certificates, go on chain. In aerospace, this is a game-changing technology that will simplify and transform recordkeeping for aircraft owners and airlines around the world.”
In its purest form, blockchain technology creates trust between all parties on the chain through digital transparency. The goal of the company is not to be the only aerospace company creating unified aircraft records on chain, but rather to collaborate and be an implementation partner so others can leverage the same technology.
“Blockchain is unique because it’s a team sport,” said Butters. “This isn’t just about Honeywell data. In fact, this is not just about aerospace data. Whether you are in aerospace, automotive, electronics or consumer products, I envision all manufacturing OEMs and repair shops pushing quality documentation and part provenance data to the blockchain, so customers have easy access.”
Adding data to the blockchain ledger does not replace regulatory authorities’ current document requirements, but rather supplements them more efficiently. Honeywell now unpacks all that parts and repair data and makes it immutable, searchable and accessible to everyone in its permissions-based ecosystem.
Honeywell first implemented blockchain technology with the launch of GoDirect Trade in late 2018. This online marketplace for buying and selling new and used aircraft parts leverages blockchain to include images and quality documents for the exact part being offered for sale, giving the buyer more confidence about purchasing the part. More than 2,700 companies and 7,000 users are active on GoDirect Trade today, and more than 80 storefronts have combined to process more than $8 million in transactions since the marketplace’s launch.