Heathrow Airport is testing biometric fingerprint readers for passengers on selected flights, in a move which could pave the way for wider biometric border controls in UK airports.
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Travellers to Dubai and Hong Kong are being given the option of fast-tracking through security checks if they have their fingerprints, face and eyes biometrically scanned.
“Biometric ID systems are fundamental to securing our borders in a more mobile age. They are crucial for counting everyone in and out of the country,” said immigration minister Liam Byrne.
The system, called miSense, allows passengers to scan their passport and right index finger to create an electronic key that will allow them to board aircraft more quickly than other passengers.
The trials will be expanded next year to test a system which will provide border control agencies with intelligence on passengers before they board planes.
The system is used in countries including Australia, Bahrain, Kuwait and New Zealand to issue airlines with “authority to carry” each passenger before they check in.
The trial will research the technical performance of the system and its acceptability to passengers.
“Improving the passenger experience is a key objective of BAA. The sort of technologies and systems that the miSense trails are developing will not only reduce passenger queuing but also further strengthen aviation security,” said a BAA spokesperson.
Suppliers Accentutre, IER, Ratheon, nCipher and Sagem have developed the technology used in the trial, which forms part of the International Air Transport Assocation's simplifying passenger travel programme.
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