The aviation industry is confronted with rising passenger numbers and increased flight volume in the face of limited resources at airports and in the air. At the same time, airlines struggle with increased cost pressure from an increasing number of market participants while the highest safety standards demand compliance with complex processes. One promising area of optimization is the allocation of Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) slots. ATFM slots are issued by the EUROCONTROL Network Manager in times of increased flight traffic, regulating time of departure, exact execution of the flight route, and time of landing.
Until now, ATFM slots have only been subject to intra-airline swaps, used by airlines to prioritize expensive flights and thus minimize overall costs. Reasons for different costs of individual flights are, for example, the provisioning of connecting flights for passengers or work time restrictions for crew members. Airlines want to keep the cost structure of their flights confidential, as they fear a competitive disadvantage when disclosed. This desire for confidentiality has hampered slot swapping between different airlines.
SlotMachine will employ blockchain technology and secure multi-party computation to extend the existing UDPP solution with the possibility to keep private the participating airlines’ confidential information such as the cost structure of flights. Technology will allow for secure, auditable transactions without the need for a central broker where stakeholders will be able to enter slot swapping transactions without disclosing information to other participants.
By demonstrating the feasibility of a privacy-preserving platform for swapping ATFM slots, the foundation can be laid for the development of a product that will be an essential element in the aviation industry in the future. It contributes to better use of existing resources at airports, higher efficiency of airlines, lower emissions, and shorter delays for passengers.