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OPINION: Web3 efficiencies abound for aviation

OPINION: Web3 efficiencies abound for aviation

In an ever-changing world, airports have long been the vital connectors of our globalised society. However, today’s airports are facing a unique set of challenges that demand innovative solutions and steadfast resilience – from heightened security concerns, to labour and equipment shortages, to all-time high jet fuel prices and the ongoing impact of global health crises like the coronavirus pandemic. But to remain competitive, airports across the world must improve operational efficiency.

In this era of digital transformation, blockchain technology is emerging as a game-changer for airports’ airside operations across the board, from enhancing productivity, efficiency and security to improving the customer experience.

Blockchain is an advanced database mechanism that enables the recording of transactions – both physical and virtual – on an immutable ledger, shared securely both internally and between these interlinked companies through a user-friendly interface. Ultimately, the result is a seamless exchange of value and a single source of truth that was previously impossible. This unlocks significant value for airports by reducing risk, increasing visibility and enhancing trust across complex ecosystems.

Blockchain accelerates efficiencies and increases profitability of airside operations

Although most airports are used to handling large, complex data sets, many of their processes are still slow and rely entirely on paper. This results in slow, manual processes prone to human error.

This is particularly true for cargo management at airports. Existing technology for cargo management has remained unchanged for over 50 years. A dependence on handwritten data records makes transparency impossible – and tracking is slow, inefficient and prone to human error because data recording for each piece of cargo is done manually. Mistakes and the lack of speed and transparency often causes flight delays with time-consuming reconciliation, resulting in wasted costs and customer dissatisfaction.

Blockchain can solve these problems by providing accessibility to data in real-time, not only within an airport but also across partner organisations such as airlines and baggage handlers.

And this isn’t just a theoretical concept. My company Aventus put this technology to the test under real life conditions at Heathrow Airport with cargo handling organisation Airport Perishables Handling (APH).

Aventus provided APH with an application for aircraft container tracking, which can be downloaded onto each ground handler’s smartphone, digitising data capture in a standard format – significantly reducing human error. The data is then made available simultaneously to approved stakeholders in a private network, including the airport as well as airlines and freight forwarders, removing some of the reconciliation workloads and improving planning capabilities.

According to this study at Heathrow Airport, blockchain technology increased productivity by 7 per cent, reduced loading times by 28 per cent and reduced human error by as much as 90 per cent.

Enhancing customers’ airport experiences with Web3 technology

Of the many things the coronavirus pandemic highlighted for airports, one of them stands tall above the rest: the aviation industry’s survival is dependent on its customers. Blockchain technology has the potential to bring significant benefits to customers’ airport experience -from check-in to baggage collection.

Take check-in and security screening as an example. The secure nature of a blockchain-based database means that physical IDs can be a thing of the past. Decentralised identities can enable faster identity verification, reducing the need for physical IDs like passports, thus reducing queues at security checkpoints. And smart contracts – self-executing agreements with predefined rules and conditions which can automate transactions based on predetermined conditions – can automatically verify a passenger’s eligibility to board.

Blockchain’s ability to enable automated transaction recording and share this information in real-time doesn’t just help airports improve their efficiency – it also brings significant benefits for customers. Real-time baggage tracking eliminates the issue of lost baggage because airports, airlines and customers alike can track baggage through its entire journey.

Stepping up security

With regulators and customers alike increasingly developing higher expectations for aviation experiences with fewer risks and enhanced security, blockchain is emerging as a frontrunner technology.

The decentralised and distributed nature of blockchain enhances data integrity by ensuring data is stored redundantly across the network. This resilience reduces the risk of data loss due to a single point of failure.

The immutability of blockchain ensures data is accurate and reliable. It also makes it impossible for anyone to reverse a transaction, helping to prevent fraud. It makes the blockchain a tamper-proof record of all transactions – crucial for auditing and accountability.

All participants in a blockchain network have access to the same information, and each transaction is recorded on a shared ledger. This transparency reduces the risk of errors and fraud and increases accountability.

From enhancing security measures and efficiencies to making passenger processes smoother, blockchain is bringing significant improvements to how airports function. And as industry players and regulators alike – globally – increasingly realise the benefits of the technology, blockchain is only becoming more integrated and adopted into the mainstream.

As this trend continues, it will become a fundamental requirement for operating in any industry. Airports that fail to incorporate blockchain today will find themselves playing catchup as their competitors capitalise on this competitive advantage.

The key to unlocking these benefits lies in choosing the right blockchain partner. Choose the wrong one, and you’ll waste valuable time and resources. But the right one can dramatically accelerate your transformation, giving you a crucial competitive advantage.

Industry players should look for a partner that offers enterprise-grade, customisable software and scalable solutions that evolve with your needs, ensuring seamless integration with existing and future technologies, backed by deep industry expertise in blockchain security and regulatory compliance, allowing your team to concentrate on core operations.

Alan Vey is founder and chairman of Aventus, a technology company that onboards enterprises to Web3.

Image credit: Bahadir Yeniceri/Adobe Stock