Outline plan for marketable system is in place and discussions are under way for trials

Germany's government document printing company Bundesdruckerei is promoting face recognition as the best solution to the aviation industry's urgent need for a secure identification system. Bundesdruckerei is working as a systems integrator for the technology and promoted the concept at last week's Inter Airport Europe exhibition in Munich for use at airports and other border control areas.

"This is the only biometric technology that can be used right now without enrolment," says Andrew Hill, senior account manager at Bundesdruckerei, "as, unlike fingerprint and iris recognition-based systems, it does not need a database to be effective." Hill expects technology to be adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation as the primary recommended biometric system for access control at airports.

Initial testing of the core technology and concept will not be completed until early next year, but Bundesdruckerei has formulated an outline plan for a marketable system. "We see our customers as passport and immigration agencies, airport management companies, and airlines," says Hill, adding that talks are under way with "several airports in Europe and Asia" about trial programmes.

The system incorporates smart cameras developed by Canada's BioDentity Systems that are able to register facial features and break them up into mathematical codes. This data can be stored and compared with databases or photos scanned from official travel documents. "One-to-one matching against passports will ensure that the person checking in or passing immigration is the person they say they are. Matches can also be run against police databases to see if the person is a known criminal," says Hill.

The data can be held in smart cards to provide an effective access control system for airside workers providing a secure replacement for traditional "magna-strike" cards that are easy to forge.

Hill believes that ultimately the system could allow international and domestic passengers to mix. "The system will ensure that the person checking in is the one boarding the aircraft," he says.

Although Hill is confident the technology will enable the system to function as advertised, he warns: "We have to establish how well it copes with the affects of ageing - in particular with children - and ethnic origin," says Hill. Tests are about to start and Hill aims to present the results to ICAO next year.

Source: Flight International