SITA report looks at smart contracts on blockchain

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SITA Lab, the research division of air transport IT provider SITA, has published the findings of a project looking at the effectiveness of smart contracts residing on a blockchain.

The private permissioned blockchain, named FlightChain, stored flight information using a smart contract to arbitrate potentially conflicting data. SITA’s partners in the project – British Airways (BA), Geneva Airport, London Heathrow Airport and Miami International Airport – provided the flight data that was merged and stored on the blockchain. During the project, more than two million flight changes were processed by the smart contract and stored using blockchain technology.

The air transport industry is highly-connected and there is a need for ‘single source of truth’ for various data used by different stakeholders. While there are many cases of airlines and airports collaborating to share flight data, the information still resides in separate silos. When there are flight delays, this results in differences between passenger apps, airport FIDS, airline agents. FlightChain ensures all stakeholders have the same information.

Jim Peters, chief technical officer, SITA, said, “Our FlightChain project has demonstrated that blockchain is a viable technology to provide a single source of truth for data for airlines and airports, specifically for real-time flight information.

“While there are other technologies available for sharing data, the use of blockchain, and smart contracts in particular, provides ‘shared control’ and improves the trustworthiness of the data. This research with our partners shows the potential of blockchain for sharing data across the air transport industry.

“In a real-world network, it will be important to manage the changes to the smart contract as it affects all participants. Industry bodies such as ACI and IATA, working with SITA as the neutral IT provider to the air transport community, could be involved in the establishment of the contract. In fact, we can imagine a future where industry standards are written directly as smart contracts instead of published as PDF documents.”

Glenn Morgan, head of digital business transformation at International Airlines Group (IAG), BA’s parent company, said, “Now we’ve proven the technology, we are really excited by the opportunities that blockchain can create in the industry. We will work with IATA and ACI to ensure the best practices are in place.”

The research paper published today details key lessons learned regarding governance, smart contracts, system security and system performance, scalability and reliability. Along with a view on the use of public versus private blockchain networks for the air transport industry.

To read the full report, click here.

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Dan joined Passenger Terminal World in 2014 having spent the early years of his career in the recruitment industry. As assistant editor, he now produces daily content for the website and supports the editors with the publication of each exciting new issue. When he’s not reporting on the latest aviation news, Dan can be found apprehensively planning his next DIY project.

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