London Heathrow has said that it will test out technologies and processes that could reduce risk of Covid-19 transmission while travelling, driving the development of a Common International Standard for health screening globally.
The trials – which will assess for medical effectiveness, passenger response as well as suitability to the airport environment – could form the basis of a Common International Standard for health screening at all global airports. Before any new measures are rolled out across the airport, they will be reviewed against Heathrow’s three tests to ensure that they are medically grounded, build consumer confidence and practical for airports to deliver.
The concepts under review as part of the Heathrow trials include: UV sanitation, to quickly and efficiently sanitise security trays; facial recognition thermal screening technology to accurately track body temperature; and contact-free security screening equipment to reduce person-to-person contact.
The first of the trials will be a temperature screening technology that uses camera detection systems capable of monitoring the temperatures of people moving through the airport. The passenger-facing trials will first be conducted in the airport’s immigration halls, and if successful will be introduced in departures, connections and colleague search areas. The trials will begin in the next two weeks in Terminal 2.
Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said: ‘Aviation is the cornerstone of the UK economy, and to restart the economy, the Government needs to help restart aviation. The UK has the world’s third largest aviation sector offering the platform for the Government to take a lead in agreeing a Common International Standard for aviation health with our main trading partners. This Standard is key to minimising transmission of Covid-19 across borders, and the technology we are trialling at Heathrow could be part of the solution.’
As an international hub airport, Heathrow follows an international standard and is already required to carry out temperature checks by some other countries. Temperature screening was introduced following previous outbreaks of SARS and Ebola, with some countries using thermal checks as a control measure against COVID-19.
Data from trials on COVID-19 mitigation will be shared with Government, aviation industry and other UK airports to drive the creation of a Common International Standard for health screening. Holland-Kaye has been urging the UK Government to lead the global implementation of a Common International Standard, to ensure continued passenger safety and restore confidence in travel as countries prepare to ease their respective lockdowns.