Melbourne Airport, Biometric Pilot Project


Melbourne Airport has been recognised as one of the advocates in the aviation industry, in the context of enhancing passenger experience through the use of leading-edge technologies. In fact, Melbourne Airport has been selected number one for innovation at the 2014 Australian Airports Association’s (AAA) National Airport Industry Awards.   In 2017-19, the Avatas team was engaged by Melbourne Airport to deliver a roadmap for biometrics outlining the next 10-year horizon and to build a service blueprint and requirements for system implementation. During this engagement constructing the strategic roadmap, the team was required to understand the direction of the airports’ future planning.


The project involved the reconciliation of multiple legacy systems involved in the passenger processing pathway, to a single unified biometric and automated platform, which opened significant opportunities for these organisations in terms of future planning and capabilities. During business case development, a considerable amount of time was prepared to ensure key stakeholders have gained full understanding and confidence to support the program, as biometric technology was relatively a new concept in aviation.


Following the planning workshops, Avatas acted as specialist advisors to develop the business case, strategy, and concept design of a new proposed biometric platform to facilitate passengers in an automated and entirely digital manner. Specific visual presentations and tools were applied to develop artifacts and convey highly complex content and workflows to a diverse audience. Avatas was behind the end-to-end development of all documentation with the analysed data and incorporated the teams’ consulting advice into a package that was presented back to project sponsor of Melbourne Airport in a coherent and succinct manner accounting for interdependencies, correlated against the business problem, key themes and any issues that were identified during the exercise.. This included the contribution of future scope documentation and planning materials, which have led to the subsequent support services of the Expression Of Interest (EOI) phase, where Avatas team conducted a public assessment of potential vendors and service providers and development of go-to-market strategies for Melbourne Airport. The interviews and aforementioned documents were used for a systematic evaluation from which the team was able to distill information required to align Melbourne Airport’s digital transformation roadmap. 


As a result of this engagement, multiple artifacts were produced, including an as-is state assessment, product definition, process maps, interactive materials for workshops with commercial partners, requirements document and visuals, and supporting tender documentation content.  These strategies provided a view of the likely long term vision for aviation passenger and baggage processing, future expansion into commercial and operational applications, in the perspectives of revenue, capacity, and efficiency growth. 


Avatas has completed Melbourne Airport‘s digital transformational journey as planned, where the introduction of automation has dramatically enhanced border security while improving the passenger experience. This has retained Melbourne Airport’s reputation to be an innovator through the use of the latest technologies.


Sydney Airport, Security Transformation Project


The Department of Home Affairs, Division of Aviation and Maritime Security regulated the upgrade of all screening technologies for departing international travel, requiring such upgrades to occur by end 2020. The upgrades saw a move to a new technology based on Computed Tomography screening and automation – for both pax and checked baggage, and Sydney Airport wished to understand the implications of this upgrade on its operations, staff and user experience, as well as the spatial and footprint requirements, new circulation and operational pathways, throughput performance and supporting building upgrades that would come with such systems. The checked baggage screening systems upgrade to CT technology would also need to incorporate an automated robotic baggage system that needed to be integrated with the new screening units


In this engagement, Avatas were advisors and project managers for the program, specialising in technology advisory, integration, trial procurement and management, trial assessment, and documenting learning for future planning, operational practices, liaising on design into spaces, and lane functionality.

The key change with this technology was the introduction of advanced machine screening decision making as well as the upgrade to CT 3D scanning and invasive detection. The technology had the capacity to machine learn, by validating automated machine screened results the units would learn to improve screening accuracy and granularity, it also introduced robotic process automation with the new solutions. The other component to screening was in the checked baggage system. This is a complex plant that transfers physical bags and data to track every bag in the network, with complex coding controlling its performance. Both solutions were based on highly technical subject matters and required the team to translate such coding and technical information into easy to grasp artifacts, such as visual, graphs, graphical content, tables, and reports.

For both these projects, Avatas developed and managed the delivery of a series of trials and technology integrations, which needed to be justified through various business cases. The business cases needed to demonstrate both capital and operating expenditures proposed for the trials and the benefits that would be obtained from them. These business cases were based on both financial, operational, and regulatory considerations, which were reviewed and taken into consideration by the executive. An integral part of the Avatas engagement was to liaise and coordinate between various vendors, system optimisation engineers, technicians, internal operational resources, and senior management to develop the proposed trial plan, manage and report on the trial and integration enhancements, and analyse all output data to formulate final recommendations. This required the team to appropriately understand this technology to produce written trial plans, reports, and final recommendations in plain English, so they were could be interpreted by various parties throughout Sydney Airport and be implemented and assessed accordingly.

In procurement, the Avatas team was engaged to assess the submissions on all evaluation criteria, including methodology, schedule, organisational and team experience, pricing, risk and compliance parameters, and technology-specific assessments for various vendors and suppliers.


As a result of this engagement, efficiencies across these assets rose 100% as an outcome of this project, and Sydney Airport was equipped with the information it needed to make fleet changes across the rest of their organisation in order to align with the new legislation.


The new CT technology would result in a greater ability for detecting hazardous and restricted products for aviation. It also encompassed more automation organisation wide, and a networked system enabled remote screening, these features decreased the labour dependency and redundancy of the screening operation. The checked baggage upgraded solutions saw an increased use of machine learning and with Avatas managing the enhancements to conveyor systems that the Xray units sat on, bag tracking and data models, as well as physical conveyor robotics, were improved to provide significant increases to line throughput and quality of the screening process. These changes would however change the risk portfolio of the Airport, which was a key consideration of Avatas in their assessments of risk in this engagement and as such was reported on thoroughly.

Sydney Airport, Fast Passenger Processing Project


The Sydney Airport Fast Passenger Processing project involved the inception, planning, design, development, operation, and assessment of the world's first non-government, in-production, integrated check-in and biometric system. Coupled with automation, the project sought to validate identity using a passenger’s face and the integrated standard airline check-in and boarding process. Avatas was responsible for this project in all phases of its life cycle, including all development and implementation works, support, maintenance, and data analytics behind the use of this system. The project involved the whole departures journey, including automated check-in, bag-drop, security screening, departing immigration (government interface), airline lounge access, and automated self-boarding.



Sydney airport in collaboration with Qantas wanted to design a lounge access management system to admit valid travelers to the business class lounge at Sydney airport. The system was to permit access to the correct people in an automated way, providing a personalised greeting to the traveler and keeping sensitive personal details of the traveler private.    



The Avatas team devised a system that used the traveler’s class of travel, frequent flyer information, and an image of their face captured by the airport CCTV system. This system would match the face to the entry requirements of the Qantas lounge. This lounge access linked to the facial recognition of the traveler enabled a tablet device to display the facial image and the last name of the traveler to a lounge attendant who would then validate their entry and greet the traveler by name. This provided a contactless entry without the need for the traveler to present documents such as a boarding pass or passport.  



The result of the lounge access management trial was a successful system that provided a good understanding of the ability to use biometrics with an existing CCTV network to capture and match a face to pre-stored records. This enabled the personalised greeting of the traveler and reduced the workload of the Lounge attendant. The other benefit was the increase in Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSAT) from people who visited the lounge.

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