“The potential of biometrics in the air transport sector has been seriously considered for some time, but now that it’s gaining traction across the industry, the technology is starting to have a truly transformative impact,” according to the Executive Chairman of CAPA - Centre for Aviation, Peter Harbison.
Peter heads up the world’s largest publisher of business-oriented commercial aviation information and analysis, covering the global airport, air navigation services and airline industries.
Peter believes biometrics will play a key role in streamlining and automating the passenger experience in airports.
“Qantas and Sydney Airport recently announced a trial of facial recognition technology for the first stage of their ‘couch-to-gate’ biometrics strategy,” he said. “This could eventually mean that passengers can pass through the stages of automated check-in, bag drop, lounge access and boarding using only their face as a means of identification.
“These are great innovations and the whole area of facilitating movement through airports is undergoing a revolution.
“Leveraging facial recognition technology is a great step in the right direction, however standardising procedures between airlines, airports and government bodies will be the biggest challenge to rolling out new techniques for passenger processing.”
Peter said that this meant that organisations like the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the International Air Transport Association and other regional associations would begin to play a much greater part in the standardisation of these technologies.”
Developments in cyber security
Peter said the deployment of new and emerging technologies, and the ongoing digitalisation of the air transport industry has and will continue to present a number of challenges.
“Keeping systems secure is one of the biggest tasks faced by both airports and airlines,” he said.
“In fact, according to one of the world’s leading specialists in air transport information technology, SITA - 95% of airlines and 96% of airports plan to invest in research and programs to tackle cyber security initiatives over the next few years.
Peter added that a key commercial area was personal data, but he said the safety areas were probably of the deepest concern, as airlines and airports used legacy systems of variable integrity.
“I suspect expenditures in this area will have to be increased once one or two glaring lapses are exposed. Action is critical as the airline system tends to be a continuum, so if there’s one weak link, the whole system can fail.”