Two events being held simultaneously in Berlin this week could lead to greater air-travel security

Efforts are under way to consolidate the array of security technologies that have increased in importance as a result of the 11 September US terrorist attacks into a globally operable system.

This week, the International Civil Aviation Organisation is chairing a meeting in Berlin of its new technologies working group to advance adoption of machine-readable travel documents (MRTDs), combined with biometric identification technology.

The meeting will coincide with an International Standards Organisation (ISO) event aimed at defining common technology and equipment capability standards enabling internationally compatible identification systems for security and immigration to speed passenger travel and reduce identity fraud.

Airline trade body the International Air Transport Association sees this as another step in advancing the integrated programme it calls Simplifying Passenger Travel (SPT). The objective is to enable identification documents to be scanned in seconds, related positively to the holder by biometric identification, and datalinked to the airport-based agencies that would normally make independent checks. The boarding-point system can also integrate with a machine-readable baggage-tagging system, enabling automatic bag-matching.

IATA says SPT will mean less inconvenience for passengers; faster throughput and shorter queues at airports; more reliable identification, reducing fraud; and links into a database that can search for wanted names and faces. ICAO says there are 600 million MRTDs, but they are not all internationally compatible and have not yet been linked to biometrics, except in some pilot programmes and fast track systems.

Source: Flight International