Earlier this month Rolls Royce announced that Hong Kong-based Block Aero won its “Blockchain Innovation Challenge”. The engineering firm’s aviation division partnered with Singapore’s SIA Engineering in search of a blockchain solution for Singapore aircraft engine maintenance.
Block Aero will now be participating in a blockchain proof of concept with Rolls Royce. It will also receive a grant of up to SG$50,000 ($37,000) from Enterprise Singapore, another partner in the event.
Rolls Royce aircraft engines are used by some of the most popular commercial aircrafts such as the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A380. There are several stakeholders involved in the engine maintenance process, which might include an overhaul or modification to a parts replacement. Either way, an inspection is often required as well.
However, the current process relies on manual checks and paper-based records, which results in inefficiencies. For the hackathon, Rolls Royce challenged blockchain startups to build a solution with the following features — traceability and transparency, integration with stakeholders and coherent, seamless and self-executing. The scenario was a scheduled replacement of a major component in a leased engine that involved a 17-step workflow.
Block Aero won the challenge by outperforming fellow finalists DEX, Kruha, PlasmaDLT and Sky Republic. The winning startup had a slight advantage as it specializes in aerospace and is working to streamline aerospace supply chains. In April, the firm launched a pilot with Etihad to improve engine overhaul times.
Singapore-based DEX develops tools to manage data and AI. It is one of the firms behind the open-source Ocean Protocol blockchain, which tokenizes data as a digital asset for use in AI computations.
Kryha is a blockchain development studio with offices in Amsterdam and Singapore. It supports multiple blockchain technologies and claims to work with BASF, Bosch, Daimler, FedEx, KLM and Shell.
Another Singapore finalist, PlasmaPay, is using blockchain for its multi-currency payments and remittance platform. It is primarily known for its digital wallet service.
Meanwhile, U.S.-based SkyRepublic is a smart contract platform which has applications for electronic data exchange (EDI), APIs and blockchain. In June, the firm launched its blockchain product called Atlas.
Skills verification platform Indorse helped Rolls Royce for the hackathon-style event by designing a skills assessment framework for the candidate teams. The firm uses blockchain to create an immutable record of the skills assessments performed.
Rolls Royce isn’t the only firm exploring blockchain for aircraft maintenance. Honeywell Aerospace developed a blockchain platform to verify parts on its GoDirect Trade e-commerce portal.
Last year Thales and Accenture demonstrated a blockchain prototype for parts at the Farnborough Air Show.
The consultants also produced a report that predicted that 86% of aerospace and defense companies will adopt blockchain by 2021.