Blockchain is becoming a hot item in the aerospace industry. NASA also seems to be warming up to blockchain technology and working on ways (PDF) to deploy it into next-generation systems. An aero-computer engineer at the NASA Ames Research Center named Ronald J. Reisman thinks that blockchain-based communication systems could help prevent spoofing and denial of service attacks on the US air-traffic control system.
The Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system is supposed to go live in 2020, but Reisman says the system is at risk of attack. ADS-B doesn’t protect the flight plans and positions for aircraft, which opens up a host of potential problems. Blockchain could be the solution, and NASA isn’t the only organization looking to blockchain to solve problems in the aerospace sector.
NASA Engineer Sees Blockchain as Solution
NASA’s Reisman proposes the use of an open source permissioned blockchain framework as the solution to ADS-B’s vulnerabilities. A blockchain platform would allow secure and efficient communication between Air Traffic Services, Operations Support, or other authorized entities, without the risk of bad actors gaining access as easily.
Reisman’s platform uses “certificate authority, smart contract support, and higher-bandwidth communication channels” to make sure that the communication between aircraft and authorized participants stays safe, or at least much safer than within the current system.
From Reisman’s paper:
“(The system) Proposes to leverage an industrial-strength open-source enterprise-blockchain framework called Hyperledger Fabric to demonstrate potential solutions to vexing technical issues that threaten the adoption of ADS-B by Military, Corporate, and other aircraft operators who do not want their operations and movements discernable by the general public.”
Furthermore, Reisman thinks that the blockchain prototype may be “economically and rapidly deployed” at scale. He cites the use of Hyperledger Fabric in numerous industries outside of finance and thinks something similar could be used in aviation communication systems.
Honeywell is Already on The Blockchain
Honeywell is a major manufacturer of aircraft parts, and they recently started selling their aerospace parts via a company-owned web portal. Their new online sales platform is blockchain-based, and the company thinks that blockchain has a much larger role to play in the aerospace parts business.
According to Lisa Butters, who works for Honeywell aerospace, less than 2.5% of transactions for aerospace components are done online. Not only is the online-space a big market for parts, Honeywell could set the standard for how they are distributed with their blockchain-platform.
The CEO of Aeron, Artem Orange, said this about how blockchain could fit into the aerospace parts market,
“The aviation space is complex. So, there is little to no room for violations. Without the implementation of blockchain technology, the industry is already effective and safe. What this means is that it would be difficult to find use cases for blockchain technology in an already functional industry. Notwithstanding, the application of blockchain technology by Honeywell and Aeron is a good example of how it can be applied efficiently.”
Wider Use Cases for Blockchain are Here
Cryptos have been under fire for more than a year. As prices dropped, many people became far more pessimistic about their future prospects. Blockchain has shown that a promising new technology can make its way into established industries, and create changes that help everyone.
While cryptos haven’t been as popular with the global population as blockchain has been with big business, there are reasons to think that crypto usage is rising, though perhaps not as quickly as some would like. In places where fiat currency has gone out of favor, cryptos have filled in the gaps.
As blockchain penetrates into more industries, it is likely that anything with blockchain behind it, cryptos included, will gain in popularity. Which cryptos will benefit from blockchain’s acceptance is unknowable, but a few of them will probably become global reserve assets over the next decade. If there are major problems in the global banking system, those changes could come a lot sooner.