SITA Explores Smart Contracts for Airports Shared Control of Data

Announcements, Blockchain, Innovation | November 10, 2017 By:

Air transport IT provider SITA has published its research on blockchain technology outlining the effectiveness of smart contracts.

SITA is the communications and IT solution provider that transforms air travel through technology for airlines, at airports and on aircraft. The company’s portfolio covers everything from managed global communications and infrastructure services, to eAircraft, passenger management, baggage, self-service, airport and border management solutions. SITA is owned 100% by more than 400 air transport industry members.

The company’s research paper, conducted by SITA Lab in partnership with British Airways, Heathrow, Geneva Airport and Miami International Airport, 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.

SITA built FlightChain, a private permissioned blockchain, implemented on both ethereum and Hyperledger-Fabric, that stores flight information using a smart contract to arbitrate potentially conflicting data. SITA’s partners provided the flight data that was merged and stored on the blockchain. SITA said more than two million flight changes were processed by the smart contract during the project.

SITA CTO Jim Peters said that the 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,” said Peters. “This research with our partners shows the potential of blockchain for sharing data across the air transport industry.”

“We are still early in the blockchain technology cycle and more research is required but FlightChain has shown the opportunities for shared control of data with our industry partners,” said Stuart Harwood, Heathrow Automation and Innovation, Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd.

Peters added that 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,” said Peters. “In fact, we can imagine a future where industry standards are written directly as smart contracts instead of published as PDF documents.”