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Costain and Swissport Western Europe lead efforts to restore airline passenger confidence through thermal imaging trial at Birmingham International Airport

Thermal imaging technology at airports


22 June 2020


Swissport Western Europe and Costain, the smart infrastructure solutions company, are collaborating on a three week trial of thermal camera technology at Birmingham International Airport (BHX) as the aviation industry seeks to enhance air passenger safety and confidence in a world impacted by Covid-19.

The trial uses a thermal camera which is positioned at the boarding gate of a major European airline and can pinpoint the temperature of passengers as they pass through. The technology alerts the member of staff watching the monitor to anyone with an elevated temperature, a key indicator for Covid-19. The thermal cameras can monitor multiple individuals at any one time up to five metres away. This means the temperature checks can be done as people move through an airport at established points so there should be no additional queuing as a result of the trials.

The UK’s £22bn aviation industry has faced huge challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. At BHX, Swissport would normally handle 6,500 flights during April and May but during lockdown this figure has fallen to 133. While not everyone with Covid-19 has a temperature and not everyone with a temperature has Covid-19, thermal imaging acts as a filter to reduce transmission and will be one way to restore passenger confidence. It has been recommended by the International Air Transport Association as part of a layered biosecurity approach for re-starting passenger flights amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Andy Clarke, aviation director at Costain, said: “Working with Swissport, who has excellent experience, training and ethos in terms of caring for passengers, means we can be sure the technology solution works the best it possibly can for passenger safety and the overall travelling experience. There is huge potential for thermal imaging technology to be integrated into airline and airport systems over time. Airlines, airports, ground handlers and the Civil Aviation Authority need to work closely together to ensure the benefits of new technology introduced to protect passengers and reduce transmission are fully realised.”

Jason Holt, CEO Swissport Western Europe, said: “Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the way of our industry operates and this is one way that Swissport is adapting to the new environment and developing solutions to keep our employees and passengers safe. I am proud to have partnered with Costain, who has the expertise to integrate the technology and have in-depth knowledge of the airport environment, to help us toward our goal of remaining resilient, adaptable and reliable in the long run.”

Feedback from those travelling through the boarding gate is that they experienced little difference in the way they moved through the gate.

Swissport Western Europe and Costain are also working separately with other aviation industry players to develop solutions related to thermal imaging technology, testing in a range of airport locations and scenarios.


For press enquiries contact:

Costain: [email protected]

Fleishman for Swissport: [email protected]

Notes to Editors
Visuals: videos

Background: Costain can offer thermal camera solutions and a management system for multiple cameras that can help detect those infected and reduce transmission rates. We can simply provide one or a few thermal cameras for critical locations or provide a whole system of cameras. We can also develop the integrated control room technology for managing large areas and develop solutions fully integrated into airport and airline systems.

For more on Costain’s approach to integrating the technology, read the latest article by Andy Clarke, aviation director, Costain.

Swissport: In 2019, Swissport International AG provided best-in-class airport ground services for some 265 million airline passengers and handled roughly 4.6 million tons of air freight at 115 cargo warehouses worldwide. Several of its warehouses have been certified for pharmaceutical logistics by IATA’s CEIV. The world's leader in airport ground services and air cargo handling, with 64,000 employees, achieved consolidated operating revenue of 3.13 billion euros in 2019. At the end of December 2019, Swissport was operating at 300 airports in 47 countries on six continents.

Costain: Costain helps to improve people’s lives with integrated, leading edge, smart infrastructure solutions across the UK’s energy, water, transportation and defence markets. We help our clients improve their business performance by increasing capacity, improving customer service, safeguarding security, enhancing resilience, decarbonising and delivering increased efficiency. We offer our clients leading edge solutions that are digitally optimised through the following five services which cover the whole lifecycle of their assets: future-shaping strategic consultancy; consultancy and advisory; digital technology solutions; asset optimisation and complex programme delivery. Our culture and values underpin everything we do.

In February 2020, Costain launched its Climate Change action plan in which we commit to delivering low carbon solutions to every client by 2023, including tackling ‘Scope 3’ emissions, and to be net zero by 2035. The plan also outlines how the Group will play a leading role in the development and delivery of both carbon capture and clean and renewable energy generation to reduce carbon footprints across every sector.
For more information visit www.costain.com