Coronavirus: Etihad tests technology to identify medically at-risk travellers

Etihad coronavirus, Abu Dhabi airport

Etihad says it is the first airline to trial the technology, which monitors the temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate of passengers using airport touchpoints such as bag drops, check-in and information kiosks and security points.

The airline is partnering with Australian company Elenium Automation to conduct the trial, which helps to identify travellers with medical conditions. This could include passengers in the early stages of coronavirus (covid-19).

If a passenger’s vital signs indicate potential symptoms of illness, the system will automatically suspend the self-service check-in or bag drop process, notifying employees on site who can make further assessments.

Elenium has also developed ‘hands-free’ technologies in partnership with Amazon Web Services for self-service devices that use voice recognition, enabling touchless use and further minimising any viral or bacterial transmissions.

Etihad says it will initially trial the monitoring technology at its hub airport in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE. The trial will run from the end of April and throughout May 2020, initially with a range of volunteers, and, as flights resume, outbound passengers.

Etihad Airways vice president hub and midfield operations, Jorg Oppermann, said: “This technology is not designed or intended to diagnose medical conditions.

“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.

“At Etihad we see this is another step towards ensuring that future viral outbreaks do not have the same devastating effect on the global aviation industry as is currently the case.”

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