Robust airport Covid-19 testing is key to restoring air passenger confidence

posted on 4th December 2020 by Eddie Saunders
Robust airport Covid-19 testing is key to restoring air passenger confidence

As we look forward to 2021, the promise of effective vaccinations against Covid-19 is offering hope to the beleaguered civil aviation industry, but confidence that it is safe to fly still needs to be built to drive up passenger numbers. Technology solutions such as touchless check-in will be important to building passenger confidence. But according to a Resilience First poll, the most valued technology solution for passengers would be a comprehensive pre-flight passenger testing programme.

The social-media poll to survey what would inspire more confidence in air travel concluded that pre-flight passenger testing was the most valued confidence building measure for 50% of respondents, followed by a touchless airport experience for 25% of respondents. The results were released to coincide with an expert panel on airport innovation co-hosted by Resilience First and Intel and addressed by the Chair of the Civil Aviation Authority, Sir Stephen Hillier.

Ellie Wood, Account Manager – Transportation, Intel Corporation (UK) Ltd, said: “What a tough, tough year it has been seeing the devastating effect that Covid-19 has had on the air industry. We need to look at viable solutions to an industry with depleted funds that has lost lots of its people and skills.”

“We need technology that can bridge the gap and help control the effects of the pandemic whilst transforming airport operations, boost customer confidence and make them feel more efficient than before.”

Sir Stephen Hillier, Chair, Civil Aviation Authority, said: “Covid-19 is the greatest challenge which has ever faced the global aerospace enterprise. While we need to deal with the immediate challenges that brings, we also need to build greater resilience to deal with future challenges.

“The immediate challenge with this pandemic is rebuilding consumer confidence, and we can start to see some important pieces coming into place now: promising news on vaccines, the roll out of airport testing, along with the test and release programme, and reducing quarantine periods.  But we also need to look beyond Covid-19.  We need new definitions of what level of resilience we should aspire to, in order to protect the industry in the future.”

“If you look back over the last 7 or 8 months it’s been incredibly tough, but if we also look at industry’s adaptation to the Covid-19 pandemic, we can have confidence in our ability to work together, to respond to challenges, and to recover.”

Jaume Portell, CEO, Beabloo, said: “Technology has quickly moved from the use of intelligence to create better spaces to its use to protect human beings in airports. The role of technology here is to follow the customer in the airport journey with information, intelligence and automatic protection. We have seen that the interest of the audience for messages that talk about security is 300% higher than any other message that we might share with them.”

“We use thermal cameras at entrances to sense if someone has the wrong level of temperature and we use the same camera to see if they are wearing a mask. Thermal sensing checks people’s temperature in real time as they enter a physical space. It triggers an audio or visual alert on digital signage when the sensor detects someone with a higher temperature than the predefined threshold.”

Gabriel Feldman, Consultant, ICTS Europe, said: “The first layer of technology is mobile apps that allow vital sign monitoring, including heart and respiration rate, using the selfie camera that measures specific physiological states with algorithms, and flags individuals that show clear signs of being sick.”

“The second layer of defence is a physical device positioned at the entrance to a building to get a much more accurate reading of vital signs. This device uses multiple sensors including a laser to identify vital signs such as pulse anomaly, shortness of breath, chills and agitation and chest palpitations.”

“For those that show symptoms we would allow a quick Covid-19 test at the airport. The aim is to provide a manifest for the airline showing that everyone on the plane is Covid-19 free up until the moment of boarding.”

Pedro Torres, Co-Founder & CEO, YooniK, said: “Covid has had a huge impact on everyone and the way we address it and prepare for the future can make a big difference. There are two key words in the way we tackle this in airports – contactless and crowdless. It’s not just about Covid, we need to prepare for the future while dealing with Covid and we should not hamper our long-term vision for how we can make better experiences for customers. We need to make those visions real whilst solving this problem.”