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Thales uses blockchain for defense aircraft parts traceability


Yesterday French aerospace and defense contractor Thales said it opened a new Industry 4.0 Production and Maintenance Center in Spain, which leverages blockchain. The technology will be used for traceability of all parts and products that go through the complex to comply with NATO requirements and various Ministries of Defense.

The products created at the location include radio communications, aeronautics and naval equipment.

Thales first announced a blockchain solution more than two years ago, when it unveiled a traceability demonstration with Accenture at England’s Farnborough Air Show. The prototype included IoT and cryptoseals from Chronicled to ensure the Near Field Communication (NFC) chip embedded with a unique part identity can’t be tampered with.

The announcement didn’t mention any blockchain technologies. However, Thales documentation for hardware security modules that would be used for key storage supports Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric.

Since Thales’ 2018 prototype, numerous traceability solutions have been unveiled by others in both the defense and aerospace sectors. For example, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force have worked with SIMBA Chain for aircraft parts traceability. 

Nine months ago, SITA, the airline industry-owned technology firm, launched the  MRO Blockchain Alliance for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO). Honeywell Aerospace launched its parts traceability almost two years ago and GE Aviation is also working on an MRO solution.