Etihad Airways will become the first airline to trial a new technology at airports designed to tackle the spread of Covid-19 and other illnesses.
The Abu-Dhabi based airline will deploy self-service devices at key touchpoints, such as check-in, bag drop, security or immigration gates, to monitor the temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate of passengers.
The system, developed by Australian tech firm Elenium Automation, will automatically suspend the self-service check-in or bag drop process if a passenger’s vital signs indicate potential symptoms of illness. It will then alert staff on-site, who can make further assessments.
In partnership with Amazon Web Services, Elenium has also developed hands-free technologies that enable touchless use of self-service devices through voice recognition, further minimising the potential of any viral or bacterial transmission.
Etihad will initially trial the monitoring technology at its hub airport in Abu Dhabi at the end of April and throughout May 2020, initially with a range of volunteers, and, as flights resume, outbound passengers.
While the technology has been brought in in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, such a device could help curb the spread of other diseases in the future and contribute to a safer aviation industry.
“This technology is not designed or intended to diagnose medical conditions,” said Jorg Oppermann, VP Hub and Midfield Operations, Etihad Airways, said.
“It is an early warning indicator which will help to identify people with general symptoms, so that they can be further assessed by medical experts, potentially preventing the spread of some conditions to others preparing to board flights to multiple destinations.
“It has long been the case that aircraft, with their highly sophisticated air-recycling systems and standards of hygiene are not the transmission vehicle for illnesses.
“We are testing this technology because we believe it will not only help in the current Covid-19 outbreak, but also into the future, with assessing a passenger’s suitability to travel and thus minimising disruptions.”
Aaron Hornlimann, CEO and co-Founder of Elenium Automation, said: “The system would screen every individual, including multiple people on the same booking. The technology can also be retrofitted into any airport kiosk or bag drop or installed as a desktop system at a passenger processing point such as an immigration desk.
“We believe the introduction of touchless self-service and automated health screening will encourage passengers to return to travel sooner.”