São Paulo and Rio airports to implement facial biometrics for boarding

The rollout follows trials that started in 2020 involving over 6,000 passengers.
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

The domestic airports in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro will be rolling out fully digital boarding processes based on facial biometrics, it has been announced today (11).

A technical cooperation agreement has been signed between airport operator Infraero and state-owned technology company Serpro to carry out the implementation. The decision follows trials that had been taking place since 2020 involving over 6,000 passengers traveling between the Congonhas and Santos Dumont airports. The latest stage of the pilots involved over 200 cabin crew and took place between November 2021 and January 2022. 

Procured by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Special Secretariat for Management and Digital Government of the Ministry of Economy, the new functionality is part of the ongoing Safer Boarding programme.

The system based on facial biometrics was developed by Serpro, with input from a pool of stakeholders including the Civil Aviation Agency, airlines, and airport operators. In addition, a group of IT companies is engaged in the process, including Amadeus, Biomtech, Collins, Digicon, Gunnebo, Rockwell Collins, Pacer, SITA, Wolpac, Idemia, and Azul/Pacer.

By using the passenger's personal data, social security number, and a photo taken on the spot, the Serpro application enables airline staff to perform biometric validation at check-in, by comparing the data and photo with the government's databases. After that, users can proceed to board and access the aircraft without having to present an ID and a boarding pass.

Going forward, both Infraero and Serpro will be allocating teams to manage and implement the solution. Infraero will aim to acquire the equipment required for the full implementation of the facial recognition system. The tendering process should launch this month, with fully functional equipment expected to be fully functional by July. Meanwhile, Serpro will provide an ID verification engine for the project.

At the time the cabin crew pilots were announced, the Brazilian government said negotiations between the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Civil Aviation Secretariat, airports, and airlines were at an advanced stage for the full implementation of biometric boarding across airports nationwide in 2022.

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