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Air Traffic Management Via Blockchain

January 14, 2019

 

Last year the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) awarded a $330,00 grant to a group of researchers for developing a blockchain based system facilitating satellite GPS tracking. The application of blockchain technology in this case is primarily used to facilitate identity protection for government flights. The system is a long time coming, stemming from a program called Automatic dependent surveillance - broadcast (ADS–B) which the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began implementing back in 2006.

 

Automatic Dependent Surveillance—Broadcast

 

ADS–B is a surveillance technology for all aircraft that determines positions using satellite navigation data. The system periodically broadcasts this information, enabling it to be tracked. The system requires aircraft to integrate specific hardware, which has been planned to be fully integrated by 2020. Other countries have set even earlier dates for this. ADS-B has several benefits :

 

  • Traffic - pilots can view traffic information about surrounding aircraft if those aircraft are equipped with ADS-B, including altitude, heading, speed, and distance to aircraft.

  • Weather -  a universal access transceiver (UAT) from the ADS-B system transmits weather reports, and weather radar through flight information service-broadcast.

  • Cost Effective - ADS-B ground stations are cheaper to install and operate than primary and secondary radar systems used by current third party systems.

  • Flight information -  Flight information service-broadcast (FIS-B) transmits readable flight information.

 

ADS-B is required for all aircraft regardless of the nature of their flight.For commercial flights, this process has been slowly underway for years without issues. However, this is posing a problem for government and military flights. Some of these flights are intended to be un-tracked. The $330,000 grant was put in place to develop the system that will both fulfill the requirements of ADS-B, while still maintaining the needed private data for particular government and military flights.

 

Blockchain Brings Security and Flexibility

 

"In this project, the Ethereum blockchain technology will be exploited to develop a decentralized, secure, and cognitive networking and computing infrastructure for deep space exploration. The blockchain consensus protocols will be further explored to improve the resilience of the infrastructure[…] I hope to develop technology that can recognize environmental threats and avoid them, as well as complete a number of tasks automatically." - Dr. Jin Wei Kocsis — an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Akron

 

In order to preserve privacy for military and corporate operations, a blockchain network proposes the most scalable and reliable network infrastructure. Because they use PKI  [Public Key Infrastructure], end users are not required to belong to any single organization, or even  adhere to any single client/server protocol.”by procedurally preventing public release of selected flight plans, position, and state data. The prototype - Fabric Certificate Authority - is expected to “meet or exceed the same level of privacy and security currently provided by radar-based systems in the NAS.“

 

https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20190000022.pdf

 

 

 

By: BGN Editorial Staff

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