Orange Business Services and partner SITA, communication and information specialist for the air traffic industry, are developing a new digital boarding card system. This is a major innovation for travelers and airline companies.
Using your mobile phone as a boarding card is a new idea that will make life easier for the millions of airline passengers every day. With the collective expertise of Orange Business Services and SITA, this idea is now a reality.
"Today, three quarters of air passengers want to use mobile boarding cards. Solutions exist already, but they're far from perfect. To use his card, the passenger must launch an application or retrieve an email or an SMS - and make sure he has data access to do it," says Renaud Irminger, SITA Lab Director.
"This isn't the case with the NFC solution developed with Orange Business Services, where no special set-up is required," he explains. "Even if the battery is dead, the boarding card can still be read by the airport NFC card reader. This innovation makes everything simple, reliable and transparent for passengers."
As part of their joint innovation program launched in 2009, the two partners have developed a new contactless boarding card system, installed onto devices containing a Near Field Communication (NFC) token. This wireless technology allows encrypted and secure two-way data transfer between two devices a short distance apart.
After checking in online, on the mobile or at the airport, the passenger is provided with a boarding card sent directly to their mobile. It is stored securely on the device SIM card. Once at the airport, the passenger validates the card by swiping his mobile next to an NFC reader. Check-in, customs and boarding - every step becomes faster and more seamless.
In the future, this innovation can allow airlines to improve quality of service and customer service. Today SITA is testing the technology in Geneva, with a view to do a large-scale deployment within two to five years.
"We are the first in the world to develop a full test environment," says Muriel de Beler, who is responsible for the joint innovation program with SITA at Orange Business Services. "Since September, this showroom explicitly demonstrates to airline companies how passengers can use their NFC-enabled mobiles to simplify their journeys. Next steps are to implement a larger scale pilot with an airline company."
NFC technology offers lots of everyday applications when integrated into magnetic cards, USB keys or mobile phones. Among them, payment cards, travel cards such as Navigo, loyalty cards, discount vouchers and cinema passes. Orange Business Services can help companies in all industries benefit from numerous contactless applications via an infrastructure that guarantees end-to-end data transfer and security.
"NFC has strong potential, which makes it a strategic priority for Orange. By developing solutions, such as digital boarding cards on a mobile with SITA, we are giving ourselves an early advantage for when the market matures," says de Beler.
For this project, the two companies have capitalized on their complementary capabilities. SITA has an in-depth knowledge of the airline industry, its clients and key players, including the card reader manufacturers. Orange is at the leading edge of NFC development, with a high-performance solution that meets the expectations of travelers.
"We bring our industry knowledge to the table, and our collective experience has been particularly fruitful in terms of mobile NFC boarding cards - a field Orange Business Services has been working on for some time," explains Irminger. "We convinced the travel industry to choose a security system that is integrated directly onto the SIM card, an essential point because most operators are choosing this system and we want to apply universal standards that all air traffic companies can adopt."
By working together, the two companies have achieved something that would have been more costly and lengthy to implement independently. "Our current objective is to demonstrate the benefits under real user conditions within airports, propose industry standards so that boarding cards from all airlines can be validated all over the world, and help our industry launch a successful large-scale service," concludes Irminger.
contactless: passengers simply swipe their NFC mobiles next to a reader to validate their boarding cards.
simple: no complicated set up on the mobiles. Everything is simple, automatic and seamless for passengers.
secure: the security system is directly integrated into the SIM card.
SITA in figures
leader of information and communication services for the air traffic industry
more than 500 air traffic organizations are members
$1.46 billion consolidated revenues in 2010
2,700 clients worldwide