A five-month trial using latest iris recognition technology to help speed up arrivals at Heathrow has begun at the airport this week.
The trial, run by the UK Immigration Service, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, BAA and EyeTicket, is designed to allow up to 2,000 invited passengers who travel frequently as visitors to the UK with Virgin and BA through passport control in the blink of an eye.
The trial uses EyeTicket’s JetStream product and this will be the first time that iris recognition technology is tested at a UK airport.
Passengers taking part in the trial, which aims to expedite the arrivals process and maximise space in the immigration hall, will be approved in advance by the UK Immigration Service.
At busy times passengers can face queues before clearing passport control, but trial participants should gain clearance in a matter of seconds.
BAA Heathrow’s Managing Director, Mick Temple said: “Heathrow is always looking at new and innovative ways of improving passenger journeys through the airport. With this trial we hope to establish that iris recognition technology can prove to be a safe, effective and highly accurate means of ensuring passengers on arrival are legitimate entrants to the UK.
“Although this particular trial is about simplifying a passenger’s progress through the airport, we will also consider whether in the longer term this sort of technology could have wider security benefits.”
Home Office Minister Lord Rooker said: “These are unprecedented steps. Biometric technology offers many new possibilities. This is an excellent example of the Home Office working in partnership with other stakeholders to make the most of science and explore secure and improved passenger clearance at Immigration control.”