Chloë Greenbank took time out with A-Safe’s UK managing director, Neil Clifford, during this year’s inter airport Europe in Munich to find out why the Atlas barrier helps ensure safe, efficient operations.

A-Safe was founded by David Smith back in 1984 and is a specialist manufacturer and supplier of high-performance safety barriers and associated products. In 2001 the company launched the world’s first industrial-strength safety barrier and has been at the forefront of airport safety for more than 15 years. As the company continues to innovate, it is constantly looking for new ways to push the boundaries of safety technology.

Why did you enter the airport sector?

The core markets for us originally were warehousing, distribution and manufacturing industries – essentially anywhere we want to protect structures from vehicles or segregate vehicles from pedestrians. However, around 10 years ago the airport sector became a significant sector for us and our Atlas range is designed specifically for the airport market. The Atlas is our strongest barrier and is capable of withstanding impacts from fully laden baggage tugs and dollies. It was originally designed for baggage hall applications for Heathrow Terminal 5, but has now been adopted by airports throughout the UK, including London Stansted and Manchester, as well as other hubs around the world. Although there are A-Safe subsidiary companies around Europe all manufacturing is done in the UK.

What does A-Safe offer in the airport sector?

Around 90% of what we supply into the airport market is from the Atlas range. Airports are busy, heavy-duty environments with numerous ground support vehicles in operation, such as tugs, dollies and fuel trucks. The risk of collisions is high. Around 90% of what we supply into the airport sector is from our Atlas range. We also cover pedestrian segregation with our three-rail barrier. But we will tailor our offer to each airport’s needs. We like to get on-site, see the application, look at the types of vehicles in use, assess their weights, speed and types of impact. From that we can build a risk assessment to establish the optimum types of barriers required for each respective environment.

What is different about your products?

Our barriers are made from extruded polypropylene. The extrusion process (where we re-align the molecular structure from random to linear formation) is carried out in house for global supply. The main technology and know-how is in the material composition. It’s a multi-layer pipe system that we extrude and each of the layers has a slightly different material composition of polyolefins and rubber additives. It’s that combination of material know-how and the extrusion process that provides the material with its energy absorption properties. So, it deflects on impact, absorbs the energy and then goes back to its original position.

What makes you stand out from your competitors?

Our solutions are scalable and can be tailored to the individual airport’s needs. We’ve worked with all sizes [of] airports from Jersey Airport in the UK to Singapore’s Changi Airport. The big challenge we face initially when approaching a new customer is turning their mindset away from steel, as a traditional barrier material. When comparing installation costs, it’s also a more expensive option than steel, but when you look at the lifetime cost savings that can be achieved, it’s phenomenal. Gatwick was one of our first big baggage hall projects. They were spending tens of thousands of pounds on the repair and replacement of their steel barriers. We fitted their two baggage halls with A-Safe barriers about 10 years ago and I can count on one hand the spares that we’ve supplied in that period of time. So, they were getting payback in 12-18 months.

What’s in the pipeline?

The main thing is there is more competition – that’s indicative of the success we’ve had as a company. But we’re constantly trying to stay one step ahead of the game and looking at new technologies within the barrier system. We’re certainly not standing still and we’re putting massive investment into our R&D departments. We’re also making multi-million pound investments in new machinery and we’re expanding the factory as well at Elland in Halifax, UK.

 

Indiana’s South Bend International Airport (SBN) celebrated the opening of its Federal Inspection Station (FIS) and global entry enrollment centre with the arrival of a football club’s chartered flight on Tuesday 16 July.

The recently completed US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities are able to support the processing of general aviation, charter and scheduled inernationally arriving flights.

Local Governor Eric J. Holcomb said: “As a state, we’re committed to enhancing connectivity, helping both businesses and talent reach key markets across the country and around the world.”

He added: “The work being done at the South Bend International Airport sets the stage for growth and creates the opportunity to attract new commercial, international service to the South Bend-Elkhart region to further propel tourism, economic development and talent attraction throughout northern Indiana.”

CBP will pre-schedule applications for Global Entry enrollments during a specific set of hours Monday through Wednesday and SBN has already seen significant interest with more than 100 appointments already made durin the four weeks after it starts providing the service.

“The team at SBN has been working with our federal, lcoal and state partners to make today possible,” said Dr. Jay Asdell, St. Joseph County Airport Authority Board of Directors president. “I am proud of the teamwork that has occurred for SBN to be the first airport in Indiana to offer a Global Entry enrollment centre. Now our team can continue their efforts to recruit commercial flights to international destinations.”

Decarbonising aviation can only be achieved when all industry players work together, as Chloë Greenbank discovered on a flight from Halmstad City Airport to Stockholm Bromma.


Boarding flight air bp

Even the weather was perfect on Thursday 16 May when, after months of planning, a number of companies from across the aviation sector rose to the challenge of turning a typical weekday service from Halmstad City Airport on Sweden’s southwest coast to the capital’s Stockholm Bromma Airport into the ‘Perfect Flight’. The voyage marked the first time that every element in the management process on a regional flight had been optimised to keep carbon emissions to a minimum. With Sweden having introduced an aviation tax designed to address greenhouse gas emissions and the country aiming to be carbon neutral by 2045, it provided the ideal host country for the project. Owned by the local municipality, Halmstad City Airport was one of the first airports in Sweden to offer biojet fuel to its customers in 2017. And in order to achieve its ambitious plans to be fossilfree by 2030, the airport’s ground vehicles are all 100% fossil-free, it has 233 solar panels on its terminal roof producing 53,000 kWh per year, LED lighting throughout the terminal and by autumn this year on the runway too, as well as electric car charging points and bicycles available for passengers to hire. In addition, Air BP’s operations at Halmstad City Airport have been certified as carbon neutral since 2016. Braathens Regional Airlines (BRA) used one of its ATR 72-600 turboprop regional aircraft, which according to ATR produces 40% fewer carbon emissions per trip compared with similarly sized regional jets, saving 4,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per aircraft per year. In addition, BRA offers all its passengers the choice of fossil-free biofuel when booking their air travel.

Air bp

POWERED BY SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL

A key element of the flight was the fact that it was powered by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), supplied by Air BP and produced by Neste – the largest producer of renewable fuel refined from waste and residues. Produced from nonpalm renewable and sustainable raw materials, the SAF fuel supplied can produce up to 80% fewer emissions over its life-cycle compared with conventional jet fuel. Made by blending conventional kerosene (fossil-based) with renewable hydrocarbon, the SAF used on the Perfect Flight was a blend of around 40% renewable fuel (produced from used cooking oil feedstocks) with 60% conventional fuel. Commenting on the broader adoption of sustainable aviation fuel, Andreas Teir, Neste’s vice-president of development/ renewable products, said its essential that all aviation industry players work together. “I’m a stubborn optimist and today we witnessed the results of a fruitful collaboration,” he said. “It’s about co-operation, not competition. Decarbonising aviation calls for all stakeholders to come together and to be united in their will to overcome obstacles.” Meanwhile, Anna Soltrop, BRA’s head of sustainability, enthused that while the aim is to “continue flying perfectly” in the future, “to achieve this, it is important that we can access sustainable fuel in sufficient quantities and at the right price.”

Air bp

OPTIMISING THE FLIGHT PLAN

Captain Johan Molarin (pilot of the Perfect Flight) is in agreement with the need to increase production of SAF, but he also highlights that pilots also have a key role to play in achieving the aviation industry’s carbon- reduction goals. “We need to think about what we are doing now, not just about the future. Using efficient aircraft where possible is another integral piece of the puzzle, but efficient flight planning also has to be taken into consideration. “Everything from planning the most direct route, to cruising altitude, descent speed and gravity optimisation are integral to achieving the perfect flight.” He also noted that the Perfect Flight had a 46% reduction in CO2 emissions – which is believed to be a first for a commercial flight. While admitting that sometimes elements of flight planning are out of a pilot’s control, such as air traffic control restrictions and adverse weather conditions, “but things such as the type of aircraft that’s flown and the fuel that’s used to power a flight are all things we can control.” Talking after the Perfect Flight had landed at Stockholm Bromma Airport (which is one of five airports in Swedavia’s portfolio to have trialled the use of biofuel), Fredrik Kampfe, director industry affairs, Swedish aviation industry group, said: “It’s not how, its wow! The Perfect Flight has delivered results in terms of achieving significantly lower carbon emissions.” It also proves how much can be achieved through collaboration, as while sustainable aviation fuel currently offers the only viable alternative to fossil liquid fuels for powering aircraft, aviation needs to adopt multiple solutions to ensure greenhouse gas emissions continue to be reduced.


Read the June issue of Regional Gateway here.

After a couple of false starts, Carlisle Lake District Airport has now opened, providing new connections for Carlisle and the Lake District. Kimberley Young heads to the Cumbrian gateway to find out more.


Carlisle Lake District Airport began life around 1941 in defence of the realm as RAF Crosby-on-Eden – a Royal Air Force base buzzing with Hurricane fighters and a pilot training facility. It was mothballed post-war – before development in the early 1960s brought the launch of commercial flights. But these struggled and commercial flights ceased in 1988. Now, for the first time in more than 25 years, Carlisle Lake District Airport is once again preparing to welcome commercial air passengers, with services by Loganair to London, Dublin and Belfast City. “I think Carlisle Lake District Airport is situated very deep in the Cumbrian psyche, as well as South Scotland and the Borderlands,” Kate Willard, head of corporate projects at Stobart Group and project lead at Carlisle Lake District Airport, says. “Regional airports aren’t just points of connectivity – they are symbols of confidence, identity and heritage, of links with the past and with aspirational links to the future.” The airport has undergone a period of expansion and redevelopment, with support from Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) investment of £4.95m to help make improvements to a new terminal and runway, with the ability to service up to an Airbus A319 aircraft.

Carlisle Lake District Airport

CLOUDS GATHER

The project hasn’t always been smooth sailing, however – the opening was originally planned for 2018 but was postponed twice to spring 2019. Willard explains: “Arguably we set a very high bar with the construction and training plan, and with the worldwide shortage of ATC staff, we just didn’t get over the line with the ATC rostering last year. It was a tremendous blow for the team The Carlisle Airport plans will be a great boost for Cumbria’s connectivity and our £2.9 billion tourism industry. who worked so hard but at the end of the day safety and security take precedence over everything.” The airport re-approached ATC training, putting more people in place and redesigning the training plan, working with Air Navigation Solutions for ATC training using state-of-the-art simulators in Scotland. “Now we are absolutely ready to go on 4 July,” Willard says. Though it has a new ATC tower, the airport will be using its existing control tower for the re-opening. Willard says: “We feel that would introduce too much risk to try to move the control tower at the same time as trying to commence services, so we’re going to use the existing and compliant control tower, certainly for this season, and look to transition at a slightly later stage.” Despite the setbacks, the airport did re-open to general aviation in 2018, winning at the Airport Operators Association (AOA) annual awards for ‘Best General Aviation Airport’. The airport won’t be leaving its military service behind either as its links with maritime patrols will be a source of revenue, Willard enthuses: “When you run a regional airport you have to be creative about the commercial picture, we don’t have miles of lucrative car parking or duty-free shopping and therefore one is forced to be more creative about how you deliver revenue streams.”

TOURISM DRAW

For the re-opening of commercial service at the airport, Scottish-carrier Loganair will be launching flights to London Southend, Dublin and Belfast City using its Saab 340 aircraft. Tourism will of course be an important driver for passengers to the airport, especially with Cumbria Tourism’s aim for the region to become Europe’s number one rural tourism destination. Gill Haigh, head of Cumbria Tourism, says: “The Carlisle Airport plans will be a great boost for Cumbria’s connectivity and our £2.9 billion tourism industry. Cumbria Tourism has consistently supported Stobart’s development plans for many years and are working closely with the airport, airline and businesses to help maximise awareness of and travel through the airport.” Willard points out that the airport is not trying to displace visitors already travelling to the region by train, but to open it up to new markets: “The London service will be served by London Southend Airport which itself serves a broad catchment including South Essex and East London, and those communities traditionally have not travelled to the Lake District because it’s a six to eight-hour drive.” The service to Dublin will provide a convenient link for transatlantic passengers as they will be able to clear US immigration checks from Dublin Airport, landing in the US as a domestic passenger. The new routes will also be convenient for business travellers who are currently commuting to Cumbria says Willard revealing that “the pricing we’ve got competes very favourably with a tank or two of petrol.”

St Bees Cliffs

SECURE FOR THE FUTURE

As a smaller airport, the ease of access will be a big selling point particularly for business travellers. The airport won’t provide a duty-free offering, but the Borderlands Café will offer homeprepared goods and has also been working with Cumbrian producers to retail local brands and produce. Beyond the opening, the airport does have aims for growth, Willard says, but “first and foremost we need to make this airport sustainable and that’s going to be our priority, we’ll be bedding down the existing routes and not trying to run before we can walk!” .


Read the June issue of Regional Gateway here.

Chloë Greenbank took time out with A-Safe’s UK managing director, Neil Clifford, during this year’s inter airport Europe in Munich to find out why the Atlas barrier helps ensure safe, efficient operations.

 

A-Safe was founded by David Smith back in 1984 and is a specialist manufacturer and supplier of high-performance safety barriers and associated products. In 2001 the company launched the world’s first industrial-strength safety barrier and has been at the forefront of airport safety for more than 15 years. As the company continues to innovate, it is constantly looking for new ways to push the boundaries of safety technology.

Why did you enter the airport sector?

The core markets for us originally were warehousing, distribution and manufacturing industries – essentially anywhere we want to protect structures from vehicles or segregate vehicles from pedestrians. However, around 10 years ago the airport sector became a significant sector for us and our Atlas range is designed specifically for the airport market. The Atlas is our strongest barrier and is capable of withstanding impacts from fully laden baggage tugs and dollies. It was originally designed for baggage hall applications for Heathrow Terminal 5, but has now been adopted by airports throughout the UK, including London Stansted and Manchester, as well as other hubs around the world. Although there are A-Safe subsidiary companies around Europe all manufacturing is done in the UK.

 

What does A-Safe offer in the airport sector?

Around 90% of what we supply into the airport market is from the Atlas range. Airports are busy, heavy-duty environments with numerous ground support vehicles in operation, such as tugs, dollies and fuel trucks. The risk of collisions is high. Around 90% of what we supply into the airport sector is from our Atlas range. We also cover pedestrian segregation with our three-rail barrier. But we will tailor our offer to each airport’s needs. We like to get on-site, see the application, look at the types of vehicles in use, assess their weights, speed and types of impact. From that we can build a risk assessment to establish the optimum types of barriers required for each respective environment.

 

What is different about your products?

Our barriers are made from extruded polypropylene. The extrusion process (where we re-align the molecular structure from random to linear formation) is carried out in house for global supply. The main technology and know-how is in the material composition. It’s a multi-layer pipe system that we extrude and each of the layers has a slightly different material composition of polyolefins and rubber additives. It’s that combination of material know-how and the extrusion process that provides the material with its energy absorption properties. So, it deflects on impact, absorbs the energy and then goes back to its original position.

 

What makes you stand out from your competitors?

Our solutions are scalable and can be tailored to the individual airport’s needs. We’ve worked with all sizes [of] airports from Jersey Airport in the UK to Singapore’s Changi Airport. The big challenge we face initially when approaching a new customer is turning their mindset away from steel, as a traditional barrier material. When comparing installation costs, it’s also a more expensive option than steel, but when you look at the lifetime cost savings that can be achieved, it’s phenomenal. Gatwick was one of our first big baggage hall projects. They were spending tens of thousands of pounds on the repair and replacement of their steel barriers. We fitted their two baggage halls with A-Safe barriers about 10 years ago and I can count on one hand the spares that we’ve supplied in that period of time. So, they were getting payback in 12-18 months.

 

What’s in the pipeline?

The main thing is there is more competition – that’s indicative of the success we’ve had as a company. But we’re constantly trying to stay one step ahead of the game and looking at new technologies within the barrier system. We’re certainly not standing still and we’re putting massive investment into our R&D departments. We’re also making multi-million pound investments in new machinery and we’re expanding the factory as well at Elland in Halifax, UK.

 

Founded in 2005 with a focus on flight delays and flight data transparency, VariFlight is now helping airports to embrace new technologies to improve efficiency. Founder and CEO Zheng Hongfeng tells Kimberley Young how the company is helping airports reduce delays and improve the passenger experience.

Can you tell us about VariFlight’s background?

Our business started with a focus on the issue of flight delays. We spearheaded flight data transparency in China by collecting live flight status data from various sources and sharing with passengers through a website and mobile application. In 2011, we were able to cover 100% of domestic flights in China, and now, our data covers 94% of global commercial flights.

However, we found that notifying passengers of flight delays alone would not eliminate the issue, so we went one step further to explore factors that lead to delays.

What is VariFlight’s offering within the airport sector?

In a nutshell, we help airports manage their operations and services more efficiently by adopting new solutions, including next-generation technologies.

Our business is centred around our Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) system which helps to bridge the gap of live aviation data between airports, Air Traffic Controllers (ATC), airlines and other stakeholders and helps to optimise the processes related to flights and ground support. Currently our A-CDM is installed at over 85 different-sized airports across China.

Can you tell us more about the A-CDM solution and how it is helping airports to improve OTP and efficiency?

Our A-CDM system features components like data collection, data analyses, data exchange and intelligent decision-making, all of which are mostly done automatically.

This includes the use of the ADS-B network and artificial intelligence to optimise ETD [Expected Time of Departure]. Our algorithm can also generate a more efficient strategy for stand allocation based on ETD data and the frequency of the use of aerobridges can be increased by 10-15% in this way.

Additionally, we also track all vehicles on the ground with the help of GPS and the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, and connect this data with aircraft ground position data to optimise start and end working time for vehicles through machine learning.

We also apply visual recognition technologies into the data collection process to monitor stages like push in/out, arrival/departure at aerobridge, door close/open etc. And, we continually study and optimise the route of logistic resources on the ground based on real-time data we collate from our system.

How does VariFlight use data and analytics to help medium-sized airports improve operational efficiency and reduce delays?

Firstly, we try to eliminate idle stands, vehicles and personnel by providing the most up-to-date predicted time of arrival calculated with our live flight status data.

Secondly, we are promoting a more digitalised airport in China. We are integrating data that has previously not been taken into account by airports, as well as data they already have, to establish a full process circle and monitor areas that are causing delays.

Alerts and recommendations are shared with airports to help improve their on-time performances, and by looking into the data in greater detail, we can also identify the weak points in the operation so airports can decide whether they need a renewal or supplement of equipment, or improvement in their operation process.

With passenger numbers in Asia set to rocket, what challenges do airports in China and the surrounding region region face and how is VariFlight planning to help overcome these hurdles?

One of the biggest challenges with the rapid growth of passengers is how to get passengers in and out of the airport punctually and smoothly. We aim to address this issue by introducing more new technologies to help airports improve operational efficiency and service quality.

We are also planning to expand our focus to passenger services. Security, for example, can benefit from our dynamic human-flow monitoring and analysis system and passengers can get to their gates faster with the help of our personalised and intelligent navigation services.

What does VariFlight have lined up for the future?

In the first half of 2019, we will launch a demonstrative 5G project at Hefei Xingiao International Airport in the capital of east China’s Anhui Province. With the high-speed and low-delay 5G technology, operational data at Xingiao Airport can be transmitted wirelessly and the airport will also become the first 5G airport in China.

At present, we are actively promoting our services in Southeast Asia and we have extensive co-operation with ICAO, IATA and ACI. I believe that as we are growing stronger in China, there will be more international opportunities for us in the near future.

Richard van Wijk, global aviation practice lead at Nokia, tells Chloe Greenbank why the Finnish company’s wireless private LTE network is changing the way airports keep passengers and crew connected.

What is Nokia’s offering within the airport sector?

We work extensively in the field of aviation, but as the industry embraces the digital era we have specifically developed a string of solutions that have been designed to deliver more reliable airport operational communications and a better passenger experience with private wireless connectivity.

Can you tell us more about your Long-term Evolution (LTE) solution?

Nokia has a lot of traction when it comes to wireless technologies. Airport’s currently face a huge challenge when it comes to wireless connectivity – not so much on the passenger side because that’s covered, but on the operational side. With the staggering growth that’s forecast for passenger traffic, airports need to plan and respond to this passenger growth, and not just in terms of infrastructure, runway and terminal capacity but also from an IT/ OT (operational technology) perspective. Most airports today have implemented a shared wireless network to support both passengers and operations, using a combination of Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity. But airport operators are increasingly dealing with more processes that require more data than ever before. These shared Wi-Fi/ Cellular networks are susceptible to traffic congestions and poor signal strength so cannot scale easily to support future growth.
What we are pitching to airports is a purpose-built, private LTE (pLTE) network, separate from the Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity provided to passengers. This private-wireless broadband connectivity is dedicated to prioritising airport operational communications. It also forms the foundation for the evolution in wireless connectivity: 5G.

Which airports are you currently working with?

Our solution is currently deployed at several major gateways including Helsinki and Vienna. At the latter, there were huge issues at the gate, because aircraft wings were blocking Wi-Fi signals. It’s a common problem at the airport’s we’re talking to. If someone working on ground operations suddenly loses connectivity, it will ultimately have a huge impact on turnaround times. But at Vienna, ground handlers can connect to this private LTE network, which is helping to improve operational performance. It provides coverage from nose to tail while an aircraft is at the gate.

But it’s not just the bigger hubs we’re focused on. We are currently engaged with a small US airport with less than 1 million passengers per year.

How does it help enhance the passenger experience?

In the first instance, the pLTE environment improves the reliability of turnaround times, therefore offering a streamlined travel experience from check-in to take-off. Baggage and ground services crew can rely on secure, reliable connectivity, so can perform their jobs more efficiently, while pilots and cabin crew on the aircraft can also access real-time data and updates on their mobile devices. Plus, pLTE routers can be integrated into a variety of vehicles that require reliable connectivity throughout the entire airfield, which again will improve operational efficiency when it comes to marshallers accessing updates on runway activity and project flight traffic. What’s more, once it’s implemented, pLTE allows airports to offload operational services from the Wi-Fi and cellular networks, so all that additional capacity will be dedicated to the passengers, providing them with a faster and better wireless connection in the terminal.

Beyond that, pLTE can help improve situational awareness and response times for emergency response vehicles and teams as well as security personnel.

Can it help generate non-aeronautical revenue?

Airports have an option to monetise their pLTE by commercialising specific wireless travel services towards customers such as airlines, ground handling and baggage handling systems companies, and aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) companies.

Can it be integrated with existing Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity within the terminal?

Yes, either an airport continues to use the existing Wi-Fi within the terminal or the existing distributed antenna system (DAS) network can carry the pLTE service, ensuring dedicated wireless services for airport operations inside the terminal.

What is your vision for Nokia and airports of the future?

We will continue to help define the fabric of the digital airport providing solutions that provide the communication foundations for more reliable, efficient, operational processes. We will also continue to augment these processes with data analytics, predictive intelligence and IoT applications.

Miguel Leitmann, Vision Box CEO, reveals how the latest trend for airports to create a seamless, curb-to-cabin passenger processing experience means that biometrics are becoming the new normal.

A multinational biometrics technology company with its headquarters in Lisbon, Portugal, Vision-Box works alongside airports, airlines, governments and private entities to develop and deploy smart identity management solutions. Its aim is to improve the experience of passengers by developing and deploying next-generation passenger flow management solutions that combine advanced biometrics, artificial intelligence (AI), big data and other emerging technologies.

What is Vision-Box’s end goal?

We have been spearheading digital transformation programmes for numerous airports, airlines and governments around the world, with the aim of creating consistent, seamless end-to-end experiences for passengers.

Our goal is to accomplish a comfortable, stress-free journey with no obstacles, complicated processes, or even paper documents. We are experts in deploying collaborative digital management platforms that allow for shared services and data between airports, airlines and governments.

Can you tell us about your work at Aruba Airport?

In 2015, we launched the Vision-Box Happy Flow at Aruba Airport in the Caribbean. It was the first 100% biometric traveller clearance model. It’s a complete curb-to-cabin solution that relies on face recognition and on an orchestration platform to process passengers in a contactless manner, without having to present passports or boarding passes at every step of the journey.

We have since worked with a number of other airports that are engaging in modernisation programmes as part of their digital transformation. Los Angeles International Airport is one of the latest hubs to partner with Vision-Box. It is trialling a contactless biometric self-boarding solution, which is helping passengers board their aircraft in just a few seconds, simply by looking into a camera.

Is your solution scalable for all sizes of airport?

Vision-Box solutions process 700 million passengers every year, in over 80 airports in five continents. Our experience ranges from some of the busiest airports in the world, such as Schiphol Amsterdam, Dubai and JFK to smaller airports, mostly in the Caribbean, Africa and Europe.

We are lucky enough to have crossed paths with many different airports and airlines, diverse in size, culture and challenges but alike in their will to innovate, modernise their services and enhance the passenger experience.

How does the technology work?

The Seamless Flow vision takes advantage of diverse technological advancements, such as biometric enrolment and recognition, AI and big data. It combines them to improve the overall passenger experience and management capability of the airport through automation, passenger self-service, digital data analysis and networked connectivity.

We offer automated self-service processes using single token biometric identification for a quick, secure, and simple clearance process across the airport. The outdated need to verify passengers’ eligibility to travel multiple times across their journey is replaced by a single identity vetting moment at check-in. Biometric human-centric smart devices engineer quick, on-the-move transactions, capturing and authenticating facial features as passengers evolve through the digital ecosystem. There is no need to present their documents or even stop at any clearance point.

These passenger interaction points have a low footprint and benefit from a common-use approach, whereby passengers can use any self-service biometric touchpoint, regardless of the airline they are using. This requires a much smaller digital and physical footprint: less servers, touchpoints, space and energy consumption.

With our vision of a seamless experience, passengers can take advantage of a frictionless self-processing operation and a simple glance to a camera when passing through checkpoints. Our technology also enables passengers to use their cell phone or facial scan to book a service, make purchases, be instantly alerted about their travel plans, and receive information on their interests as related to their location at the airport with special offers and discounts at airport retailers and restaurants.

Vision-Box recently agreed to launch paperless biometric self-boarding at Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru, South India. Do you plan to roll out similar solutions for other regional hubs in India?

The Seamless Flow initiative in Kempegowda International Airport will be the first end-to-end face recognition-based walk-through experience in Asia and the largest in the world.

We are actively investing in the Indian market to accelerate the introduction of biometric digital identity solutions and seamless travel technology. We recently opened an office in New Delhi and in addition, we are planning to create a competence centre in Bangalore – the heart of India’s ICT industry.

What is the biggest challenge the aviation sector faces in terms of biometric technology?

The biggest obstacle the aviation sector faces is the partitioned, non-collaborative data management model. Governments, airports, airlines and border control authorities keep information on passengers and don’t share it. It is a fair concern, considering that their activity is dependent on the use of personal data and it is their responsibility to safeguard its privacy.

However, the fact that information is divided in silos is creating a fragmented, uneven environment, lacking synergies between stakeholders, including the passengers who have to endure repeated clearance processes with different needs, requirements and routines. The key question to consider now is how governments and industry can develop a multi-stakeholder approach that defines the use of personal data.

What is in the pipeline for Vision-Box?

We are forecasting a steady performance as the demand for seamless flow technologies increases. Vision-Box will continue to engage with pioneering airports, airlines and governments to support them in laying out their digital transformation strategies.

Inevitably the coming years will see a deep transformation of the airport sector, marked by a digital revolution that spans the entire operation of airports and airlines and will have a deep effect in the way we perceive travel.

This transformational wave will impact major travel hubs, but also extensively cover those that serve regional, business and low-fare travel. Regional aviation partners actually represent a very fertile soil for collaborative initiatives that promote the flourishing of innovation and ground-breaking passenger-centric experiences.