Biometrics within Aviation

Many factors in recent years have contributed to increased technological developments in the aviation industry. Security systems have gradually improved as passengers want to effortlessly make it from check-in to their flight; inflight entertainment has moved forward with an ever increasing selection of films & tv shows in addition to regular WiFi availability and functionality; there is also a steady rise in the use of robotics and Virtual Reality (VR) around airports.


One technological change, in particular, has taken off rapidly in recent years, Biometrics.


Biometrics essentially is an analysis of human characteristics which is then applied to data and computer science in order to identify individuals and give access control. In the most basic form, this could be i.d cards or passports but more recently this is inclusive of fingerprint or facial recognition.


One of the main challenges for airports, airlines, and passengers is ease of boarding. Airports require thorough checks in safety and security, airlines want their planes to take off at the correct time, and passengers want to get from A to B as soon as possible. Recently Amadeus in collaboration with Ljubliana Airport and Adria Airways piloted a scheme whereby passengers downloaded an app and took a selfie alongside both their passport and boarding pass. The data was saved to a server with a message then dispatched to Departure Control System which allowed passengers to be recognised and board approximately 75% quicker than normal. Utilising and spreading this technology will allow speedier, simpler and safer boarding in the future.


Further, many airlines are beginning to install biometrics scanners in airports. British Airways has now installed biometric machines within Heathrow Terminal 5, scanning over three million passengers for easy access boarding. Many more airlines have begun to follow suit with fingerprint access and facial recognition. Carrasco Airport has gone further and is aiming to become the first fully digital airport with self-scanning machines and no need to produce a passport.


With technology becoming ever more reliable and user-friendly, airports and airlines are in a strong position to utilize it and enhance the passenger experience, from check-in to inflight experience in addition to stronger and more reliable security measures. Biometrics, in particular, provide an exciting outlook in the future technological capabilities.