London Heathrow airport’s operator is looking to assist with establishing a common international standard for health screening, by testing technology intended to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.
It is to explore such options as ultra-violet sanitation – which could be applied to security trays – plus contactless security procedures and equipment, as well as thermal screening combined with facial-recognition technology to assess passengers’ temperature.
The operator says the data from the trials will be shared with a view to “jump-starting” the creation of common international standards for health screening.
Chief executive John Holland-Kaye told a parliamentary transport committee on 6 May that such a standard would be central to freeing passenger movement.
“It needs to make sure that – in a world where the risk of transmission in the community is very low, and people are starting to open their borders again – we can agree a common basis on which we’d allow people from Spain to come to the UK and the UK to go to Spain, without need to go in to quarantine or some other measure that would completely kill the travel sector.
“Until we have that kind of measure in place we won’t see the aviation sector coming back into growth.”
Technology being trialled at Heathrow “could be part of the solution”, says Holland-Kaye.
Camera-assisted temperature screening will be the first trial to be conducted, commencing initially at the immigration halls in Terminal 2 in the next two weeks before being rolled out if it proves promising.
Similar techniques were used during previous epidemiological situations, including the SARS outbreak.
The operator states that it is looking to examine not just the effectiveness of the capabilities but also the reaction from passengers and the overall suitability for use within airports.
“Before any new measures are rolled out across the airport, they will be reviewed against [these] three tests,” it adds.