Today’s aerospace industry is generating an unprecedented amount of revenue and shows no sign of slowing. However, in order to continue flourishing in today’s interconnected world, the industry as a whole must embrace and implement new tactics to foster innovation and maintain their stance against new entrants and emerging competition.
Aerospace and defense (A&D) companies decreased R&D expenditure by 0.5 percent in 2018 while those in other industries are aggressively investing. This results in limited firepower in the technology arms race and is an issue that must be addressed. Companies that harness the proliferation of emerging technologies and maturation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will effectively position themselves to attract a diverse and talented workforce, and grow capabilities to lead the business through the rapidly changing landscape.
Embracing Emerging Tech Solutions
Compared to other industries, products coming out of the aerospace industry have a much longer lifecycle, are utilized on a larger scale, and have distinct safety and regulatory requirements. This creates the unique need to accurately track the product through every stage from production to maintenance and use. Aircrafts, depending on size, can include up to several million parts, and data on each part is often collected manually. Between all using parties, it is nearly impossible to keep track of all the pertinent information about the life of an aircraft. Leveraging Blockchain, for example, offers a solution to this traceability challenge. Blockchain enables the creation of a digital birth certificate for each part, plane and individual involved in building or operating an aircraft. This digital birth certificate can be continuously updated with visibility into the airworthiness, qualifications, usage, and status for traceability throughout the aircraft’s lifecycle.
Creating real-time traceability of everything from raw materials to the whereabouts of the finished product enables end-users to use the data to anticipate disruptions and design to reduce product complexity. The result is an ecosystem of trust from one stage to the next, between all parties. While blockchain is a crucial ingredient in building a more connected ecosystem, it becomes more powerful when applied with a combination of additional emerging technologies. This combination of emerging technologies is key to improving the aviation industry overall, including cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), and machine learning. Blending these technologies to address real business problems and advance strategic goals is a challenge to which the aviation industry must rise.