Arinc launches new standard for boarding passes

Magnetic boarding passes may be a thing of the past for the airline industry. Last week, Arinc Inc. introduced a new standard to airport IT managers at Passenger Terminal Expo 2004 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Annapolis, Md.-based Arinc's new Java AEA Device Emulation (JADE) standard describes how bar code technology can be used to encode, print, and decode passenger data that normally goes on magnetic-stripe boarding passes. The new standard could save airports and airlines millions of dollars, the company said.

"JADE is the first complete boarding pass specification that represents an open standard," said John Dungan, Arinc's senior product manager for airport systems. "We are freely publishing the JADE specifications for the industry's benefit, and we will adopt [it] immediately in our own airport systems."

According to Arinc, JADE could save the industry money on the cost of magnetic printers and readers, as well as on recurring expenses such as magnetic card stock, maintenance and replacement parts.

Airlines currently use the Association of European Airlines (AEA) protocol for recording and reading passenger data on magnetic boarding passes. JADE simply replaces the magnetic medium with a bar code. Because it is AEA-compliant on both ends, a JADE system appears exactly like a magnetic system and requires no changes in airline host computers, Arinc officials said.

With more than 3,000 employees, privately held Arinc is ranked No. 26 on Washington Technology's 2003 Top 100 list, which measures federal contracting revenue.

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