Our 2020 paper published in “Computers in Industry” introduces a blockchain-based system for managing commercial aircraft leasing contracts. This addresses inefficiencies in traditional leasing processes. The system, built on Hyperledger Sawtooth, focuses on various leasing contract components including operations, legal terms, payments, delivery, re-delivery, and risk management.

Key stakeholders, including regulators, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), Continuing Airworthiness Management Organizations (CAMO), Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) organizations, lessees/operators, and lessors, are all integrated into this system. Their diverging interests are shown in the flowchart below, which shows a simplified, generic process of a typical aircraft leasing lifecycle.

We chose Hyperledger Sawtooth due to its suitability for consortium blockchain environments and its Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET) consensus protocol, which offers Byzantine fault tolerance. The system’s architecture is divided into an application layer, with data models for leasing contracts, aircraft, and approved maintenance programs, and transaction families for different stakeholders. Custom APIs and client interfaces enhance user experience. The protocol layer consists of the Sawtooth network and blockchain data storage.

Our transaction processor incorporates business logic akin to smart contracts in Ethereum. It automates validation of contract terms, operational restrictions, and insurance processes, and ensures data integrity. This involves significant machine-to-machine interactions, like communication between aircraft and aviation authorities.

We developed simple web clients using Django to demonstrate the system’s user-friendliness. Performance tests revealed that transaction throughput can be challenging, especially when processors handle complex business logic. However, the system’s performance is adequate, considering the typically slower external data sources in the industry, like the 28-day AIRAC cycle for aeronautical information updates.

Future work should explore distributed file storage, performance optimization, and further machine-to-machine interaction developments. Our research showcases a first step in utilizing blockchain technology to streamline and secure the aircraft leasing industry.