APEX Expo 2021: here’s what you need to know

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APEX Expo is ready to welcome aviation professionals, including airline CEOs, executives, suppliers and decision-makers, who are keen to meet face-to-face for the first major in-person aircraft interiors and IFEC industry event to be held since the onset of the pandemic. The show’s organisers say the event is set to attract over 1,000 industry professionals, including nearly 200 airline representatives and 100+ exhibitors, who will gather from 30th November to 2nd December at the Long Beach Convention Center to connect, collaborate and innovate over three full days of activity, and perhaps even to sign a few contracts.

The lifting of many travel restrictions by the US government was a landmark moment for the recovery of the airline and aviation sectors, and it has been key in enabling APEX/IFSA Expo 2021 to take place in earnest. APEX itself can take some credit, as Dr Joe Leader, CEO of APEX/IFSA, lobbied hard for the US to lift its travel restrictions on the EU. In August he wrote a letter to President Biden to argue why the blanket travel ban should be lifted. He also put his case to The White House coronavirus response coordinator, Jeff Zients, almost daily.

“The unique element that APEX brought to the table was the humanitarian issues of so many passengers caught on the wrong side of the border. That, alongside the logic of increasingly vaccinated travel, finally caused The White House to make the change,” he says.

Leader’s efforts, and visitors’ travels, will certainly be worth it, as the Expo has a packed schedule, with expert insights, inspiring exhibits and a live awards ceremony. Here are the details…

The Expo show floor

Wednesday 1 December sees the APEX Expo show floor open for two days (09:00-17:00). Thousands of industry professionals, including hundreds of representatives from ‎dozens of airlines, are expected to explore the space, looking for the latest developments, technologies and products from IFE suppliers and content providers, OEMs, systems ‎manufacturers, cabin equipment suppliers and other industry players from around the globe.‎

The exhibition area should certainly be clean, as a trained operator will be demonstrating Dimer’s UVHammer operator-controlled UV system by sanitising and disinfecting all high-touch surfaces at the show. The UVHammer features a variable-angle wing, which is equipped with 254nm germicidal UV lamps that can kill 99.99%+ of viruses and pathogens, including Covid-19.

Aircraft Interiors International is the official magazine of APEX and we will be covering the latest news from the event. If you have something to share, please contact adam.gavine@markallengroup.com.

The full exhibitor list is below. While you wait for the show floor to open, we can share a few sneak previews of what to expect at the APEX Expo exhibition:

AERQ’s kickstarts a global economy in the sky

A highlight of the show will be AerQ’s Aerena modular and open IT platform. The platform has been designed to facilitate greater passenger engagement onboard aircraft, leading to a deeper understanding of passengers’ inflight behaviours and needs, and thereby opening new revenue opportunities for airlines and partners.

So how does it work? An ecosystem, including an airline, passengers and third parties, will provide a portfolio of targeted media content, products and services to create what AerQ calls “a new global economy in the sky”. The idea is enabled by state-of-the-art, fully digitalised cabin touchpoints such as an in-seat system for an upscale entertainment experience, and cabin digital signage powered by OLED technology.

Airlines can gain control over their digital cabin experience by logging into the Aerena system and designing their choice of applications, media content and graphical user interface (GUI), benefiting from time and cost savings in application and content deployment due to the simple and fast operational workflows.

The smart data capturing, analytics and matching capabilities give airlines insights into passengers, and an enhanced understanding of them, to ensure accurate data-driven and intelligent decision making, which they can use to grow their business. Meanwhile passengers will benefit from the personalisation of the platform as airlines will be able to offer them the right content, products and experiences, at the right time.

Find out more about AerQ’s Aerena platform at booth 1025.

Bluebox puts the Wow into W-IFE

The aircraft-powered version of Bluebox Wow is now certified for the Airbus A320 Family

Bluebox will be demonstrating the aircraft-powered version of its Bluebox Wow W-IFE platform with integrated PA Pause, which is now a certified solution on Airbus A320 Family aircraft.

James Macrae, CTO of Bluebox, explains the technology: “By utilising aircraft power, Bluebox Wow can deliver the same digital IFE services without a battery present, eliminating the need for logistics management of batteries, while still offering a considerably lighter and lower-cost system than fully fitted W-IFE. And, by removing the battery completely, we avoid the need for complicated battery/flight status logic and control and the possible risks of that – making it much easier to ensure our system is DO-178 compliant. It’s a simple and elegant approach.”

The STC for the solution has been issued by EASA to DOA holder Aerospace Engineering Solutions and applies to all Airbus A320 Family aircraft. More details HERE.

The team can give you a demonstration at booth 930.

Inmarsat shares its research – and its new developments

The teams at global mobile satellite communications company, Inmarsat Aviation, have been striving to understand how passenger attitudes and habits have evolved since the pandemic, and to assess how best to support airlines seeking to rebuild trust in the health safety of air travel.

Inmarsat recently published the findings of its 2021 Passenger Confidence Tracker, the largest and most comprehensive global survey of airline passengers since the pandemic began, and a key part of its research efforts. The survey explored the role technology can play to improve confidence by keeping passengers connected and minimising their contact with others, and 41% of respondents said they believe that the importance of inflight wi-fi has increased since the Covid-19 crisis. The findings have also helped inform new initiatives from the company.

Inmarsat’s eye-catching exhibition stand has become a firm favourite of APEX Expo attendees in recent years, and will return to the event once again in Long Beach

Identifying new revenue streams is a critical part of airlines’ recovery process, and one possibility is the finding that passenger demand for digital inflight experiences is increasing, Thus Inmarsat has launched OneFi, a customer experience platform that enables airlines to monetise inflight connectivity. Using OneFi, passengers can enjoy several services on one platform, from ordering food and beverages or purchasing seat upgrades, to receiving the latest flight and destination information – all in real-time from the comfort of their seat.

In order to help airlines meet passenger expectations, Inmarsat has also been committed to expanding its inflight connectivity services to other markets. The availability of its Global Xpress (GX) mobile broadband to airlines in India, via strategic partner, BSNL, is a testament to this effort. As airlines recover from the impact of the pandemic, inflight connectivity is playing a major role in helping airlines win back customers, and the availability of Inmarsat’s GX network in India will support local airlines in the recovery period as they aim to boost passenger confidence.

Get more details at booth 527.

A next-generation digital experience

Lufthansa Systems will be demonstrating an evolution of its BoardConnect IFE system, the Digital Experience Platform (DXP), which is a full-blown open revenue platform that enables partners to deploy their services. DXP enables airlines to tailor advertisements, destination services and other content to their requirements and enhance the individual passenger experience.

Lufthansa Systems has also been conducting research, which has found that the importance of a personalised service approach to passengers has become particularly evident in recent months following the introduction of social distancing and hygiene rules.

Lufthansa Systems has noted the growing importance of a personalised service approach to airline passengers

“Our DXP offers passengers an engagement portal with a wide range of digital content delivered to passengers’ own devices,” said Michael Remdisch, head of future digital inflight applications at Lufthansa Systems. “This reduces touchpoints in the cabin and gives passengers a feeling of safety.”

APEX Expo visitors can also try out BoardConnect Portable NextGen, a wireless streaming platform. Lufthansa Systems has secured its first customer for the system, with Eurowings Discover, the new leisure airline of the Lufthansa Group, equipping select aircraft in its A330 and A320 fleets with the systems.

Try it out for yourself at booth 729.

The latest from Panasonic

Panasonic Avionics Corporation will be showcasing its latest developments in IFEC technology, designed to transform the future passenger experience. The company will also be sharing how it is responding to key trends in the industry, such as having Bluetooth in the cabin, personalised interactive interfaces, enhanced connectivity coverage, and more.

The ThinAir antenna builds upon ThinKom’s flight-proven VICTS (Variable Inclination Continuous Transverse Stub) technology

APEX Expo visitors can enjoy insights into the latest Panasonic announcements, such as the launch of its next-generation Ku-band antenna, which will be developed in partnership with ThinKom Solutions. The team has also launched a new series of Connectivity Bundles, which are designed to help airlines maximise their investment in in-flight connectivity. You can also find out more about Panasonic’s agreement with Russia’s largest airline, Aeroflot, to provide upgraded IFEC systems for its entire Boeing 777 fleet.

Find out more at booth 539.

Seamless Air Alliance closes the loop on premium IFC services

Following its completion of the world’s first inflight connectivity (IFC) standard and OpenIFC API, Seamless Air Alliance (SAA) will be sharing details about the completion of Seamless Release 3.

The SAA was founded by Airbus, Delta, OneWeb, Sprint and Airtel and now includes technology, communications and aerospace companies from around the world. SAA is working to create an inflight experience that will seamlessly connect passengers, enable new engagement opportunities for airlines, and extend mobile network operator relationships.

The alliance’s latest development, Seamless Release 3 (SR3), was developed by 46 industry participants to provide a series of what it describes as “breakthrough discoveries” for measuring and managing the IFC experience. SR3 defines an automatic control system that compares QoS, QoE and user experience (UX) measures against an acceptable level of IFC product performance. Any difference in performance is used to adjust network resources to achieve the desired IFC experience, with minimum resources, in a closed-loop manner.

“Together with experts from every corner of the industry we are blazing new trails to help airlines deliver the premium internet service that passengers have been craving.” said Jack Mandala, CEO of Seamless Air Alliance, ahead of the Expo.

In addition to the development of a new closed-loop transfer function, the project participants defined 96 new IFC measures that advance the management and control of inflight connectivity.

Gordon Shelhon, senior technology manager at American Airlines is impressed with SR3: “This release is taking a huge step forward. I look forward to IFC vendors’ support of this solution. It will be a game-changer for suppliers and their customers.”

With the support of a major US carrier, Seamless Air Alliance will demonstrate a secure and seamless connection to high-performance inflight wi-fi at APEX Expo 2021 (Stand 713). The team will also discuss how the IFC transfer function developed in SR3 improves passenger connectivity.

The next Seamless Air Alliance Members Meeting will also take place in Long Beach, on 29 November. Seamless Air Alliance specifications are contribution-driven by member companies. The Alliance welcomes additional industry leaders to join as members and gain access to SR3 and other Seamless Air Alliance standards.

Visit booth 713 to find out more.

Big updates for DRMtoday

Premium digital video technology specialist, castLabs, will be launching a third update of its offline DRM licencing solution, with a complete refresh of many features.

Named DRMtoday Onboard, the system is an offline server version of castLabs’  DRMtoday solution for Google Widevine, Microsoft PlayReady, and Apple FairPlay Streaming. It has been engineered to enable easy licencing of content at low cost for airline IFE, as well as for digital entertainment on buses, trains, cruise ships and ferries. DRMtoday Onboard secures video in on-prem local host environments, areas without web access, or where keys need to be stored locally, letting users automatically create licences at playback without worrying about key syncing.

castLabs is also working on a completely new version, being rebuilt using its native stack to improve performance and further reduce weight. Moving from Java to Rust/C++ has given the software a number of efficiency boosts, such as requiring 75% less memory, being 25% less CPU intensive, and requiring no external runtime.

The configuration aspect has been improved for ease of use based on a filing system, which can be directly updated together with the content instead of requiring time-intensive script updates. castLabs’ expanded and streamlined policy files for licence settings also make it easier to use features such as multi-key support.

Instead of relying on Java, the solution now supports installation with Linux packages or deployment of Docker containers to give users the flexibility and freedom to deploy and manage applications to environments on their servers, all with the high security standards that studios require for hardware protection of HD, UHD, and HDR content.

Visit booth #613 to see DRMtoday Onboard in action.

High-performance Ethernet quad cable

CarlisleIT’s NF24Q100-01HP high-performance 24 AWG Ethernet quad cable

Carlisle Interconnect Technologies (CarlisleIT) will be launching the newest addition to its NETflight Ethernet Series: NF24Q100-01HP, a high-performance 24 AWG Ethernet quad cable engineered to provide reliable performance at extreme data rates in a 100 Ω quad construction. The robust data cable is lightweight, compact and RoHS compliant.

Tested to 1GHz at up to 100ft, the NF24Q100-01HP provides all the performance and benefits of previous Ethernet quad constructions, but with a higher temperature rating and faster data rates of up to 1GHz.

Stop by booth #530 to learn about CarlisleIT’s interconnect solutions and Satcom systems

An airborne conference room

Communications technology became an even bigger part of peoples’ lives  during lockdowns and pandemic restrictions, with the likes of Zoom being used to help keep family and colleagues connected. While passengers are returning to flying, fulfilling their pent-up desire to reconnect with family, discover new destinations or just relax away from their homes, they may still wish to use these new communications tools on their travels – and possibly even during flight.

IdeaNova’s newest product, Intouch, is a web-conferencing tool built to minimise the steps needed to connect passengers with remote participants while flying. In most cases, users have to click only once to connect with their peers online. airlines and operators can also embed their brand and user interface/experience signature into every aspect of the online communication.

Intouch users can use a wide range of the usual features of web meetings, plus unique functionality that makes it easier to invite other participants to a meeting, conduct meetings in very high resolutions (up to 4k), or even play trivia games while waiting for their audience. Participants can engage in multiple online sessions, meeting multiple groups of people at the same time. The Intouch Pods feature allows them to quickly switch from one meeting room to another.

Passengers could even attend a wedding from 30,000ft using IdeaNova’s technology

An important aspect for aviation is the embedded security and flexibility of deployment. Operators can host their own version of Intouch in their data centre, managing every aspect of connectivity, bandwidth usage and data flow, ensuring security and confidentiality of passengers’ communications. Since aircraft bandwidth is expensive, Intouch automatically reduces video resolution – to the point of audio-only transmission if necessary – to enable all passengers to stay connected.

“We believe Intouch will give airlines yet another tool to attract business passengers back to flying, allowing them to stay productive by connecting with colleagues and business partners while flying. Airlines and operators have full control over the deployment, giving them all the tools needed to provide reliable and predictable experience for their customers. It also gives airlines another revenue-generation opportunity on their way back to profitability after months of difficult business climate” said Juraj Siska, CEO of IdeaNova.

The system could enable a cabin full of people to conduct video conferences – but that does raise a few passenger experience issues. And possible sales opportunities for sellers of noise-cancelling headphones.

For people keen to return to in-person conferences, there is a great event happening at APEX Expo…

Thought Leadership Conference

The activities in Long Beach begin with the Thought Leadership Conference, featuring top airline CEOs and executives from the likes of United, Delta, LATAM, JAL, and Turkish Airlines, and some well-known names in the industry. Check out the schedule:

Monday 29 November
3:00 – 6:00pm Registration open

Tuesday 30 November
8:00am – 5:00pm Registration open
9:00am – 5:00pm Thought Leadership Conference – general sessions

8:30 – 9:00am‎ Coffee & welcome

‎‎‎9:00 – 9:45am  Technology & Content: The Networks
Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellite service providers will ‎describe their services and their plans to support the ‎inflight connectivity market. ‎
Moderator: ‎
Netforecast’s director of business development, Mary ‎Rogozinski 
Panellists:
– OneWeb’s VP for mobility, Ben Griffin
– Starlink’s VP of commercial ‎sales, Jonathan Hofeller 
– Telesat’s regional sales vice president for America, ‎Philippe Schleret

9:00 – 9:45am‎  Health & Safety: Preparing for the winter of Covid and beyond ‎
The coronavirus pandemic has greatly impacted the airline industry. This session will explore how the aviation industry is recovering from the pandemic and is preparing for the coming winter and beyond. What are the short and long-term impacts on business strategy? What shifts are there in demographics and respective service? What can passengers expect when they fly?
Moderator: ‎
SimpliFlying founder and CEO, Shashank Nigam
Panellists:
– Professor of Clinical Medicine, University of ‎California at San Francisco, Monica Gandhi MD, ‎MPH ‎
– Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University ‎neuroscientist, Dr Stathis Kefallonitis
 WestJet’s chief medical officer, Dr Tammy McKnight

9:45 – 10:00am Break

10:00 – 10:45am  Creating genuine airline ‎environmental sustainability
‎Learn how airlines are reducing their carbon footprint, contributing to achieving one of the APEX Board of Governors’ priorities for 2021. Find out more about measures such as reducing weight, embracing sustainable aviation fuel, using less single-use plastics and more. ‎
Moderator:
Stefan List, head of cabin market insights, Airbus
Panellists:
– Plug and Play managing director, Amir Amidi
 Silverdraft CEO, Amy Gile
– Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh
– JSX CEO and LATAM director, Alex Wilcox

‎11:00am – ‎‎12:00pm APEX/IFSA Board of Governors discussion
– 2021-2022 United Airlines CEO, Scott Kirby,  ‎
– ‎2019-2021 Delta Air Lines CEO, Ed Bastian
– Japan Airlines president, Yuji Akasaka
– Turkish Airlines Group CEO & chairman, İlker Aycı
– Atlantic Airways CEO, Jóhanna á Bergi
– Xiamen Airlines chairman, Zhao Dong
– Star Alliance CEO ,‎Jeffrey Goh
– Southwest Airlines EVP and Incoming CEO, Bob Jordan
– Saudia CEO, Captain Ibrahim Koshy
– JSX CEO, Alex Wilcox

12:00 – 12:30pm  United Airlines: Building the greatest airline in the history of aviation by doing the right thing
United Airlines CEO, Scott Kirby
Interviewed by: Aaron Heslehurst, presenter of Talking Business on BBC World News

12:30 – 1:45pm Lunch ‎– Sponsored by Viasat

2:00 – 3:00pm World Class Awards Presentation

3:00 – 3:30pm  CEO Keynote
Saudia Airlines CEO, Captain Ibrahim Koshy
Interviewed by: SimpliFlying founder & CEO, Shashank Nigam

3:30 – 4:00pm  Break

4:00 – 4:30pm CEO Keynote
Turkish Airlines chairman & GCEO, Ilker Ayci
Interviewed by: Aaron Heslehurst, presenter of Talking Business on BBC World News

Wednesday 1 December
8:00am – 5:00pm Registration open
9:00am – 5:00pm Expo showfloor open
5:30 – 7:15pm Awards ceremony & networking

Thursday 2 December
8:30am – 1:00pm Registration open
9:00am – 5:00pm Expo showfloor open

*Subject to change.

Sound good? You can REGISTER HERE

A glamorous awards ceremony

The pandemic has certainly presented challenges for the aviation industry, but APEX members rose to the occasion with a number of innovations, partnerships and programmes. APEX is honouring these efforts and innovations at a special in-person awards ceremony on 1 December. Join your colleagues at this ceremony to network, relax and just have a great time.

There are eight awards categories of the APEX/IFSA Awards, namely: Best Inflight Connectivity Innovation, Best Inflight Entertainment Innovation, Best Airport Innovation, Best Marketing Innovation, Best Cabin Innovation, Best Product or Service, Best Inflight Food or Beverage, and Best Onboard Amenity.

The 2022 Passenger Choice Awards, Four and Five Star Official Airline Ratings, APEX Health Safety and more will also be announced.

EXPO Health & Safety

Health and safety is a top priority for APEX & IFSA, especially with Covid-19 being a concern. As Apex Expo is a ‎global event, APEX and IFSA have set strict ‎requirements to protect visitors, members, ‎staff and vendors, in addition to meeting the local and national Covid-19 rules and restrictions.
‎ ‎

As part of the entry requirements for the APEX/IFSA Expo, all attendees, staff and vendors must provide proof of vaccination in order to enter the event. Attendees must have received ‎their final dose by 16 November 2021 to be considered fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination will be checked at the entrance of the Long Beach Convention Center (see HERE for ).

“The requirement for people entering the USA to be fully vaccinated aligns perfectly with APEX/IFSA Expo in Long Beach, which has the same entry requirements. California remains one of the two safest states in the USA, with a continuously declining Covid-19 rate that now stands at less than 10% of the highest per-capita state, according to The Washington Post.” Joe Leader, CEO of APEX/IFSA

Note that face coverings will also be required at the event, but social distancing will not be enforced.

Additionally, the Long Beach Health Department will provide free vaccinations and complimentary on-site PCR and rapid testing to all APEX Expo attendees. Click here for more health and safety-related information, including guidelines for US and international visitors.

APEX Expo 2021 exhibitors

There is a wealth of technologies, products, and content to be found on the show floor. Plan your visit with this exhibitor list (stand numbers in brackets):

AerQ (1025)

Airfi.Aero (811)

Adaptive Channel (405)

Aeroplay Entertainment (610)

Airfree (433)

Anuvu (439)

Armed Response Team (407)

Astronics (611)

BBC Studios (319)

Bluebox Aviation Systems (930)

castLabs (613)

CMI Media Management (410, 410a)

CNN Inflight/ Warner Media (339)

Carlisle Interconnect Technologies (530)

CineSend (402)

Concept Development, a Division of One Stop Systems (925)

Contentino (302)

Crown Media Family Networks (324)

Digital IFE Services (425)

DirectTV (428)

ECA Group (813)

Ensemble Media (323)

Euronews SA (310)

France 24 (313)

Gate 23 Entertainment (327)

IFPL (833)

IMG Media (404)

Ideanova Technologies (711)

Inflight Dublin (421)

Inmarsat Global (527)

Intelsat (838)

Kontron (618)

Latitude Aero (912)

Lounge #2 (639)

Lufthansa Systems (729)

Moment (509)

Media Carrier (512)

Nova Tracking (712)

Pictureworks (322)

Panasonic Avionics Corporation (539)

Paramount Pictures (219)

Porsche Consulting (419)

QEST Quantenelektronische Systeme (831)

Ricochet Digital Media (300)

Seamless Alliance (713)

Skeye (333)

SmartSky Networks (919)

SmarteCarte (511)

Snowfall (413)

Spafax (939)

Stellar Group (411)

TEAC Corporation (927)

Telesat (446)

The Angelus Corporation (812)

Touch Inflight Solutions (829)

uPlay Mobile Corporation (308)

Viasat (719)

VirExit Technologies (526)

Warner Bros./ HBO (229)

West Entertainment (504)

Zephyr Seat (714)

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About Author

mm

Ever since his first flight on a TriStar, Adam has loved air travel, and since becoming editor of the Aircraft Interiors International brand he has really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the latest aircraft and airline products before they are even launched. Adam co-ordinates the running of the magazine, from commissioning articles and artwork, to ensuring that high standards of quality are maintained, as well as managing online content. Adam is proud to sit on the jury of the Crystal Cabin Awards and to have laid on the bed in Etihad's Residence.

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