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GE Aviation, Microsoft develop supply chain blockchain for aircraft parts

Mon, 13 May 2019, 10:04 am UTC

GE Aviation, a subsidiary of General Electric, has developed a supply chain blockchain using Microsoft Azure, CoinDesk reported.

Headquartered in Ohio, GE Aviation is a leading provider of commercial, military and business and general aviation jet and turboprop engines and components as well as avionics, electrical power and mechanical systems for aircraft. It supplies jet engines to nearly 60 percent of the global airline industry.

The track and trace blockchain, which is a permissioned fork of the Ethereum blockchain, will monitor and collate data related to the manufacture and life cycle of critical aircraft engine parts.

GE Aviation Digital Group has been working on the project for over two years in collaboration with partners like MTU Maintenance.

David Havera, blockchain CTO of the GE Aviation Digital Group told CoinDesk that the project has been progressing under the codename “TRUEngine.”

“Our vision is being able to trace parts as they are manufactured and the engine when it’s shipped. Then how that engine performs in the field, when to repair it and then re-enter it into the field,” David Havera, blockchain CTO of the GE Aviation Digital Group told CoinDesk.

He explained that aircraft engines are “liquid assets” with around 60 percent of them changing hands over a five-year period. The existing paper-based documentation processes have led to a number of inefficiencies.

Blockchain technology, Havera said, will structure critical data in a single format, thereby significantly improving user access to it.

Mike Walker, the senior director of applied innovation and digital transformation at Microsoft, said that the blockchain is a “production pilot” which uses “live data and business processes with real customers.”

“So what we have done brings cost optimization and significant safety improvement, but now we are exposing a new business model,” Walker said.

“We are creating a profit center for what I lovingly referred to as ‘the boneyard’ in Texas, where essentially they put all these parts where they don’t have the GE Aviation genuine paperwork – and you can do that for all the other boneyards out there, too.”

GE Aviation Digital Group intends to share the blockchain with other industry players through a consortium. While the names of industry incumbents invited to join the TRUEngine consortium have not been revealed, Havera said:

“We are targeting companies who have already bought our engines – so it could be Delta or Southwest or BA – and they have a maintenance contract with us. We have a kind of ‘razor and blades’ business model where we sell you the engine and then you will sign a maintenance agreement to be TRUEngine-certified and we will maintain that. So, we are rolling this out to our maintenance agreement base.”

Walker said that they will have a “controlled rollout,” adding that they will have three or four airlines initially and then another trickle out to reach five or six.

Havera said that they are ready to sell the service and are actively engaging with customers. He added airlines are increasingly reaching out to them for the project.

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