France's Toulouse-Blagnac airport to conduct NFC field trials for BlackBerry smartphones

Navigating through airport security is hardly the most fanciful way of kicking off a vacation, but this summer, a handful of frequent fliers in France will take part in a field trial that aims to streamline the process and make it a bit more enjoyable. Fifty lucky travelers armed with BlackBerry smartphones will take part in a pilot study that tests the authentication technology recently developed by Orange and SITA. Upon their arrival at the Toulouse-Blagnac airport, the handset's NFC-capable SIM card will serve as an access pass to the car park, the premium access zone for departures and even the private lounge area. Smartphone integration will provide travelers with real-time flight information, and it's said that the handset will even remember the location of one's vehicle in the car park. As the system is hardware-based, the identity verification technology will even work when the smartphone is turned off. The Toulouse-Blagnac airport aims to have a broader NFC implementation available by 2013-2014, which may allow users to board flights and pay for goods with their mobile device. To learn more about the vision, you'll find the PR after the break.

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CONTACTLESS MOBILE SERVICES: WORLDWIDE FIRST IN TOULOUSE-BLAGNAC AIRPORT

France - Toulouse-Blagnac airport has worked in collaboration with Research In Motion, Orange and SITA to reach new heights in innovative customer service. The airport is launching a Near Field Communication (NFC) trial that enables passengers to pass seamlessly through the airport using just their mobile phones. In a worldwide first for an airport, using a SIM card-based safety protocol, 50 frequent flyers will take part in a trial at Toulouse airport this summer, to test the new service on their BlackBerry® smartphones.

NFC technology allows easy access to a wide range of useful services. Using a wireless short-range connection a simple tap of the mobile device can validate a flight ticket, pay for goods or receive information about, for example, departure gates, flight changes and other relevant information.

Arriving at T-B airport, the passenger's mobile phone will now act as their security pass for a dedicated, priority path through the airport. Passengers on the trial will be able to access the P1 car park using their smartphone, which will hold details on the parking lot in the memory. Then, without delay, they will be granted access to Departures via the Premium Access Zone. Thereafter, they'll be able to enjoy the comforts of the "La Croix du Sud" private lounge without needing to present additional credentials. En route through the airport, passengers on the trial will receive real-time information related to their flight (schedule, departure hall, boarding gate, etc.).

Using NFC technology offers many advantages: it is extremely secure; it works even when the mobile is powered off; it does not require any specific application to be loaded on to it; it is not affected by reading problems due to a scratched or dirty screen surface. Passengers using NFC can now be handled more promptly and efficiently than with any of the current boarding processes available.

"With NFC technology, the mobile phone simplifies the passenger's journey through the airport, says Jean-Michel Vernhes, CEO of Toulouse-Blagnac airport. It now becomes a personalized tool displaying the right information at the right time. It also enables passengers to better manage their journey, so they can choose how they spend their time at the airport. For T-B airport, the approach is to give to flyers access to leading-edge technologies that enhance and facilitate their experience at the airport in providing new Premium services."

Through this partnership with Research In Motion, Orange and SITA, Toulouse-Blagnac airport looks towards the future, implementing functionalities that will be displayed in the new smartphone application planned for 2013-2014.

David Derrida, Director of Carrier Product Management Research In Motion:

« NFC technology opens up numerous exciting possibilities for BlackBerry smartphone users. We are actively working with partners around the world to advance the development of value-added, NFC-based services and we are very excited to be involved in this trial. This new technology is already available on several BlackBerry smartphones and we expect it to revolutionize the experience of passengers at the Toulouse-Blagnac airport. »

Didier Durand, Director of Contactless Mobile Services:

"We are happy that our collaboration with Toulouse-Blagnac airport enables us to deploy a pragmatic and secure offer, which will soon be available for Orange customers travelling through the airport.

In collaboration with Toulouse airport and an airline, our aim is to offer a complete service that includes the ticket. These contactless mobile services, which are based on the AFSCM and GSMA standards, will simplify peoples' lives in a number of ways. Orange is working with partners in sectors such as transport, entertainment, banks, shopkeepers and service operators to create an ecosystem that will allow these services to take-off on a large scale."

Renaud Irminger, Director of SITA Lab, SITA:
"SITA, the world's leading specialist in air transport communications and IT solutions, is actively working on the development of new technologies that have the potential to improve the passenger experience, like NFC. In 2011, SITA Lab demonstrated through a demonstration room, that NFC could dramatically improve the passenger experience by, for example, using NFC-enabled phones as a boarding pass to open security, airline lounge and boarding gates automatically, and could also increase the penetration of mobile phone usage for air travel. We are delighted that this technology is now becoming a reality with the world's first trial at Toulouse-Blagnac".