NASA looking to invest in Blockchain for aircraft flight data

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is studying potential use cases of blockchain technology, with an aim of ensuring privacy and security of aircraft flight data, as per a research paper released on Jan 07.

The research paper was published by Ronald Reisman, an aero-computer engineer at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

The paper recommended that blockchain networks and smart contracts could help mitigate security issues associated with the aircraft. The United States will be incorporating a new surveillance system, starting from January 1, 2020.

The system, known as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), will publicly broadcast aircrafts’ identity, position, and other such aircraft-related information. US has been mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), for national adoption of the surveillance system.

Reisman later clarified that the new ADS-B “does not include provisions for maintaining these same aircraft-privacy options, nor does it address the potential for spoofing, denial of service, and other well-documented risk factors.”

The United States will be incorporating a new surveillance system, starting from January,1, 2020.

Reisman presumes that blockchain technology has an answer in the form of an engineering prototype created using permissible blockchain.

The proposed framework features, “certificate authority, smart contract support, and higher-bandwidth communication channels,” to ensure a private and secure communication between specific aircraft and authorized member.

“The design innovation is the use of an open source permissioned blockchain framework to enable aircraft privacy and anonymity while providing a secure and efficient method for communication with Air Traffic Services, Operations Support, or other authorized entities.”

The research paper also highlights a prototype known as the Aviation Blockchain Infrastructure (ABI), that is based entirely on Hyperledger Fabric and Smart contracts. The prototype allows the control over what data is  shared publicly or privately with “other properly authorized entities.”  

Information on flight-plan such as aircraft type, origin, destination, filed route, etc. can be published on a public channel that is accessible by all the approved members. While the aircraft state information, such as altitude, longitude, and latitude can be securely kept using a private channel.

Last year, NASA made headlines by offering $330,000 to Dr. Jin Wei Kocsis, a professor at the University of Akron (UA) for studying how an Ethereum based-blockchain could automatically detect debris floating in the space.

Blockchain technology cannot be simply ignored, as the tech has proved its worth in several industries. The retail companies are now starting to implement the technology for tracking consumable goods, right from origin until they reach the supermarket.