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NASA Is Proposing A Blockchain-Based Air Traffic Management

According to RT, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is exploring opportunities and risks of launching a Blockchain technology platform to control and manage air traffic. If the proposal is adopted, experts believe that NASA will be able to develop a blockchain-powered infrastructure to manage air traffic operations. The new platform will proffer maximum security, privacy, and authentication benefits that are the key elements in managing NASA activities which are a matter of national security.

The Current Platform Is Prone To Risks

In the report that NASA has published, there is a reference to the current radar-based air traffic service that is sourced from third-party providers. The service is designed for military and corporate operations that are classified and subject to procedural systems that prevent unauthorized access. Thus, the system in use safeguards flight plans, airway positions, and sensitive state data.

ADS-B 2020 Proposal

The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) arrived at a conclusion to have all operations in the National Airspace System (NAS) to adopt the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) network by 2020. The ADS B is meant to solve the shortcomings in the old system and overhaul the control and management of all air services. However, given that the year 2020 is less than 12 months away, the US military and all the aviation industry stakeholders are lagging behind and the timeline is constrained.

The fact that the FAA’s mandated ADS-B project is behind schedule has been raising a concern of whether it is realizable in the first place and whether it is the best strategy for creating a fully secure, effective, efficient, transparent, verifiable, private, and platform. Any shortfall in any of the features could defeat the whole purpose of creating a new air traffic management system in the first place.

Particularly, the ADS-B does not offer solutions to address the risk of denial of service, spoofing hazard, and other risk factors that air traffic management systems are prone to.

About The Proposal

The presentation by NASA showcases an engineering prototype that embodies a design that can offer solutions that the ADS-B fails to address. Dubbed as the Aviation Blockchain Infrastructure (ABI). The prototype employs the use of the Hyperledger Fabric which is an open source permissioned Blockchain technology platform.

The platform has state of the art features that offer aircraft privacy and anonymity solutions in communication applications such as operations support, and air traffic services. The ABI can also be adopted in by other entities that require similar solutions to those of NASA.

The Blockchain ABI prototype has features such as higher-bandwidth communication channels, smart contract support, and certificate authority. Technically, the features can secure communications between an aircraft and an authorized party as it facilitates data sharing as per smart contracts configurations.

The ABI Blockchain may in future prove critical component of the US Space Force that President Donald Trump recently launched as a strategy of securing the country against space wars. This is because the platform has a decentralized and a scalable architecture that is far efficient than the conventional NAS radar-based and the ADS-B systems.

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