Biometrics to Be Used at Canadian Airports

Transport Canada and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) today announced the beginning of the implementation phase of a new restricted area identification card. Through the use of biometrics, this card will enhance the restricted area pass system currently in place at Canada's twenty-nine major airports. Also announced today is a pilot project to deploy new document screening equipment to detect explosives at pre-board screening checkpoints.

Transport Minister Jean-C. Lapierre made the announcements at Montreal - Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, along with CATSA president and chief executive officer, Jacques Duchesneau. Transport Canada and CATSA have worked together to develop these projects, which will use biometrics for the new restricted area identification card and test new explosives detection document screening equipment at strategic airports across the country.

"The Government of Canada is committed to continuously enhancing the security of our aviation system," said Transport Minister Jean-C. Lapierre. "These projects will continue to ensure Canada's place as one of the world leaders in aviation security, and build on one of my key priorities as Minister of Transport."

"Since its creation in April 2002, CATSA has been working to ensure that Canada's air transportation security system is among the best in the world. The new equipment deployed today is further evidence of that commitment, one that has seen us deploy over 1,000 new pieces of security screening equipment over the past two years," said Mr. Duchesneau.

Canada already has an established airport restricted area pass system. This project will build on that foundation by deploying restricted area identification cards, which will use biometrics to support issuance, verification, cancellation and tracking of restricted identification cards. To gain access privileges to an airport's restricted area, cardholders will be required to have either their fingerprint or iris scanned by biometric readers at individual airports. Operational trials are underway at Vancouver International and Kelowna International airports, and will begin at Montreal - Pierre Elliott Trudeau International and Charlottetown airports shortly.

The pilot project to deploy new document screening equipment will test for traces of explosives on passenger documentation such as boarding passes. This new explosives detection equipment will be installed at different points in the pre-board screening process to determine what location is best suited to ensure security and facilitate the efficient processing of passengers. Operational trials will begin in Ottawa next week.

The explosives detection pilot project will be carried out in addition to current screening requirements and processes. Passengers will still be required to have their carry-on belongings searched and their electronic devices will still be subject to screening. CATSA's mission is to protect the public by securing critical elements of the air transportation system as assigned by government. As a federal Crown corporation, it is accountable to the Minister of Transport for the delivery of consistent, effective and professional security services at or above the standards set by Transport Canada regulations.