Cathay Pacific pioneers ULD blockchain tracking solution

Airline rolls out new system to manage Unit Load Devices in real time and which will ultimately replace paper receipts

Cathay Pacific will be the world’s first airline to introduce ‘blockchain management’ in its Unit Load Devices (ULDs). Following a successful trial last year , it is now introducing a system that will make locating, allocating and transferring load devices between forwarders, the airline and other concerned parties transparent to all users and ultimately paper-free.

With the existing manual process, it is all too easy for all parties to lose track of ULDs in their inventory. Cathay Pacific’s ULD blockchain system serves as a ‘single source of truth’ for the sake of providing the standard data and increasing visibility across the network for all concerned parties. The system will have the capability to replace paper receipts, while a specially-designed mobile app that makes use of blockchain’s smart contract will facilitate the transfer of ULDs in real time. Once all ULDs become smart with sensors installed, it can become a total paperless solution.

The first stage of the project started in early July, and once implemented, custody change of ULDs within or outside the airport will be recorded in the paper-free blockchain system. It will primarily focus on ULD transactions in Hong Kong and selected ports in the US, with plans to implement the system across the whole network in the near future.

The project was initiated by Cathay Pacific e-Cargo and Digital Enablement Manager Calvin Hui, who presented his findings at the IATA Aviation Data Symposium in Athens, Greece. He said: ‘Using blockchain to establish a trustworthy ULD database across the network will not only assist with ULD management, but also improve the service quality and experience for our customers.

‘The most obvious benefit we expect to see is having sufficient ULD stocks for our customers during peak cargo periods, because we will know where exactly to find our ULDs.’