Upgraded Biometric Passenger Scans at Heathrow

 Heathrow's Terminal 5: History in the Making
Heathrow Airport is pressing upgraded biometric passenger security technology into service, following 18 months of trials.

According to airport operator BAA, the system will be in place in Heathrow Terminal 1 and Heathrow Terminal 5 from September 2011 onwards. As a result, all passengers using these terminals at the UK's flagship airport will be scanned twice, in between arriving at the hub and getting on their aircraft.

The devices will be delivered to Heathrow via a tie-up between security firm Atkins and biometric software organization Aurora and there will be 82 of them in total.

They're based on the PASS2 (Passenger Authentication Scanning System) produced by Atkins that's been deployed at Heathrow for the past three years but incorporate AIR (Aurora Imaging Recognition) to supply a brand new capability, previously unseen at any other airport.

Biometric Passenger Scans  
Air's attributes include the ability to capture biometric passenger scans in a variety of different lighting conditions and to identify individual subjects at a maximum range of approximately 36 inches.

"Previous facial recognition technology has always been highly susceptible to changes in light", Aurora's chief executive Hugh Carr-Archer told the Evening Standard.

"We use near infra-red light which bathes the face in constant lighting. It's the first time this system has been used by an airport for passenger processing."


Upgraded Heathrow Biometrics  
Trials carried out since the start of 2010 have shown that, on average, the upgraded Heathrow biometric system can carry out a single verification in under five seconds. Once the system's up and running, these biometric scans will be performed both around the check-in facilities and in the departure lounge areas.

"In line with UKBA [UK Border Agency] requirements we are introducing technology that will enable us to more accurately reconcile images of passengers flying domestically", a BAA representative explained in a company statement.

"For passengers this means a faster journey through ticket presentation and use of lounge facilities, which previously would only have been accessible to international travelers."