Industry Watches as Barbados Airport Debuts a Secure, Wireless Check-In

Annapolis, Maryland, USA, December 18, 2002

Annapolis, Maryland, USA – Thousands of passengers caught their flights on time last week at Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados. That wasn’t big news to the passengers, but it was very exciting news for the airport, which is one of the busiest in the Caribbean. Grantley Adams International has become the first airport in the world to deploy a secure, wireless check-in and boarding system for all its passengers.

Most of the airlines at GAIA began using their new wireless check-in counters on December 6. The technology – from ARINC Incorporated and Richard van der Worp – will be used from now until 2004 while the airport undergoes a major terminal expansion and construction. The wireless network eliminates costly temporary wiring, installation, and re-wiring of counters. It should also minimize disruption and inconvenience to passengers. The airport’s management believes strongly in wireless and has invested a significant part of its new technology budget in the ARINC wireless solution.

“We’re taking the lead at this time because wireless is simply the best answer during airport construction,” states Keith Barrow the GAIA Project Manager who pushed for the wireless project. “ARINC was able to add a very high level of security, satisfying our needs, and that was a key factor. I know of other major airports who are watching us very closely, and they’ll believe when they see it working here.”

Wireless check-in networks have held a tantalizing promise to improve airport operations, but after September 11, 2001 many airlines and airports put their wireless projects on hold because of security concerns. Grantley Adams International is one of the few airports still moving forward. ARINC worked closely with the airlines and regulators as well to address concerns over the security of the system and passenger data.

The ARINC and Wireless solution uses state-of-the-art 128-bit encryption and dynamic WEP (wired equivalent privacy) to answer any security concerns. This secure wireless connectivity is integrated with ARINC’s industry-standardiMUSETM passenger check-in and boarding technology.

Grantley Adams International can now focus on the benefits of wireless operation. The airport can now relocate any of its check-in and boarding counters at any time during construction. The system includes 111 check-in and boarding terminals, all equipped with small wireless transmitter/receivers instead of data cables.

“Ordinarily, we would have to install miles of temporary data cables, and then tear them out again – maybe more than once,” said Mr. Barrow. “ARINC’s secure wireless network is definitely a better solution.”

Grantley Adams International is the major airport for Barbados, and one of the Caribbean’s busiest destinations. The terminal expansion under way will increase the airport’s floor space by 35% when it is completed in 2004.

“ARINC believes secure wireless networking is an important new option for the aviation industry, because airports are almost constantly undergoing expansion,” says Mike Picco, ARINC Vice President, Airport Systems. “They need a flexible infrastructure to reduce costs while they reconfigure their passenger facilities, and they need to keep passengers moving without delays. Secure wireless networking solves both problems.”

ARINC and Mr. van der Worp tested the wireless system during November, and five of the six major carriers at Grantley Adams International are now using the system. Charter carriers are benefiting as well, because Seawell Air Services Limited – ground handlers for many of the charters – uses the wireless network with ARINC’s LocalCheckTMboarding application.

“There were no glitches at all when we brought the system up on December 6 – American Airlines, Air Canada, British Airways, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and the charter carriers all came up on the same secure wireless system,” commented Mr. Picco. “That’s a good indication of just how robust this system is. Secure wireless check-in has a bright future.”

ARINC Airport Systems is a leader in common-use passenger technology, and its MUSEĀ® passenger systems are found in more than 50 airports worldwide, including London Heathrow, Las Vegas McCarran, and Incheon South Korea. The company has recently received contracts to install its iMUSE system, which offers IP network connectivity, at airports in Munich, Germany, Milan, Italy, and at the majority of Canada’s large airports.

ARINC Incorporated is the world leader in transportation communications and systems engineering. The company develops and operates communications and information processing systems and provides systems engineering and integration solutions to five key industries: airports, aviation, defense, government, and surface transportation. Founded to provide reliable and efficient radio communications for the airlines, ARINC is headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, with over 3,000 employees worldwide. ARINC is ISO 9001 certified.