The French Ministry of the Interior gave the go ahead to test automated fast track crossing at external borders (PARAFE) using facial recognition: the single security checkpoint at terminals 2E and 2F welcomed its first passengers in transit on Monday, 16 April. Since then, passengers eligible for the PARAFE system who are over the age of 18 and have a biometric passport from an EU country, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway or Switzerland have been able to use the latest generation gates recently opened at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport.

The challenges of introducing facial recognition

  • Streamlining passenger flows at the border
  • Increasing the number of passengers eligible for the PARAFE system

(passengers with a biometric passport are not required to sign up for it beforehand)

  • Optimising human resources at the border
    (1 supervisor for several gates)

The deployment schedule for the new PARAFE gates

If GEMALTO facial recognition gates are conclusively tested, 42 gates should be in use at all of the airports in Paris sometime between 1 and 19 June with the following breakdown: 27 gates for six locations at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and 15 gates for three locations at Paris-Orly Airport.

According to PARAFE 2&3 Project Manager Damien Blaise, “Once we receive the new authorisation, our service provider GEMALTO will have to retrofit the gates installed at each location to switch from digital fingerprint authentication to facial recognition.”

Figures

3-5% of passengers with French biometric passports are eligible for digital fingerprint authentication whereas 30-40% of passengers with French biometric passports are eligible for facial recognition according to the French National Commercial Aviation Federation (Fédération Nationale de l’Aviation Marchande – FNAM).

Different facial recognition systems at different airports

The system is much simpler in London, for one. With no request from authorities to detain suspect passengers, the gates have only one entrance as opposed to the two entrances the gates have at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and Paris-Orly Airport. In the current security climate, the French public authorities require maximum efforts for checks in France.