Exploring new ways of using and managing data
The air transport industry generates a huge amount of data that holds the potential to increase collaboration and drive more efficient, seamless journeys across airlines, airports, ground handlers and governments. Given SITA’s unique position at the center of the industry, we have the potential to leverage this data for the benefit of all stakeholders and SITA Lab is exploring new ways of using and managing data.
Blockchain / distributed ledger technology
Blockchain, also referred to as Distributed Ledger Technology is one of the most hyped and poorly understood technologies to emerge in many years. It promises a transformational shift in the way we engage in Business-to-business services through the ability to have a trusted, tamperproof, distributed dataset of information that is shared by many parties.
SITA Lab is working with airlines and airports on several projects to test this technology and to setup an industry blockchain for further collaborative investigation. Past and current projects include storing biometrics on blockchain as part of IATA’s One Identity projects and storing aggregated flight data on blockchain.
FlightChain - shared control of data?
A persistent problem in the industry is having a single version of flight information that is shared between airlines, airports and their customers. While there are many cases of airlines and airports collaborating to share flight data, this data still resides in separate silos and still tends to get out of sync. When there are flight delays, this results in 'differences of opinion' between passenger apps, airport FIDS, airline agents – which is frustrating and inefficient for all.
Using ‘smart contracts’ for shared control of data by airlines and airports is where blockchain promises real benefits. SITA Lab conducted research with International Airlines Group (IAG) and Heathrow Airport to test the potential of blockchain and smart contracts to solve the flight information issue.
Called FlightChain, this joint research project retrieved data directly from the operational databases at SITA, British Airways, London Heathrow, Geneva and Miami Airport which was validated in a smart contract and then merged into a single set and stored on the blockchain. This data is then shared among all parties. The blockchain contains the most up-to-date data to provide an authoritative reference for flight status.
The results and key lessons from this research are available now for the industry. The paper discusses the potential for airlines and airports to use ‘smart contracts’ for shared control of data.