Lufthansa launches ‘blockchain challenge’ as aviation projects take off

German airline Lufthansa has teamed with up with enterprise software giant SAP to launch an “Aviation Blockchain Challenge”.

The initiative seeks to generate and source “inspiring and groundbreaking” ideas for blockchain solutions that ultimately make traveler experiences and airline operations smoother, which if viable, can then be transitioned into pilot phase with SAP.

Gleb Tritus, managing director of Lufthansa’s Innovation Hub, the arm of the airline managing the partnership with the SAP.iO Foundries programme, said the “peak of inflated expectations” around blockchain is coming to an end.

“While many industries have found their first use cases, the impact on the aviation sector is not noticeable yet. We want to change that together with SAP and see substantial potential in our industry to utilise blockchain and other plays of decentralised networks,” said Tritus.

Applicants to the challenge will be able to pitch their ideas within the three categories, including the Traveler Challenge, seeking projects that add value from booking and purchasing flights to loyalty programmes and identification at the airport; the Airline Challenge, focusing on improving airline-specific operations such as data sharing across the company; and the Supplier Challenge, calling for ideas that “rethink aspects of the aviation supply chain”, such as document tracking and digitisation to transparent document verification.   

The participants will be given feedback from aviation, business modeling, ideation and blockchain experts, both from Lufthansa and SAP during the evaluation and mentoring phase if selected, where contenders will also gain access to SAP’s blockchain-as-a-service technology and the airline’s “industry access to the aviation ecosystem”.

Lufthansa says it will “definitely consider” a pilot project with the winning team. “The best-case result would be a blockchain-based solution that fits certain aspects of our IT agenda and infrastructure, our strategic focus areas regarding digitisation, and has a potential to scale and create clear bottom-line impact,” said Tritus.

Blockchain takes off in aviation

While blockchain may not yet be established in the aviation industry, as pointed out by ‘blockchain enthusiast’ senior manager at cbs Corporate Business Solutions GmbH, Sascha Loeffler, on Twitter, there is no short supply of aviation companies dipping their toes in the water.

Just two days ago, aviation giant Boeing announced intentions to “jump on the blockchain bandwagon” to “revolutionise” the tracking and building of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) in a collaboration with Texas-based AI company SparkCognition, whose CEO believes the partnership could open the door the “largest new market” in existence.  

Speaking to The Block, Loeffler said there was “enormous blockchain potential” among aircraft manufacturers to make aviation “even safer”: “There are many interesting use cases, from the tracking of mandatory audits to part authentication and traceability.

“For airlines, it will be more about enabling seamless multi-party collaboration across their corporate and departmental networks,” he added.


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