What is APEX? The Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) encompasses a network of businesses and professionals that are committed to providing a world-class airline experience for passengers around the globe. Every day, APEX members are improving every aspect of the airline experience: from designing, building and installing flat-bed seating, entertainment and communications systems on commercial aircraft, to airport lounges and inflight dining. APEX is professionally managed by Kellen Company, the premier global association management firm with offices and representation in the United States, Europe, China, the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia.
Who are APEX members? APEX is comprised of member companies from over 300 international and regional airlines, aircraft manufacturers, motion picture studios/producers/distributors, broadcast networks, electronic-content creators, music programmers, record companies, magazine publishers, post-production houses, licensing bodies, avionics systems manufacturers, audio/video equipment manufacturers, and communications companies.
How is APEX governed? APEX, formed under established bylaws, is governed by a 11-person board of directors drawn from the airline and airline-supplier sectors of the airline passenger experience industry. The day-to-day activities of APEX are managed by an executive director, hired by the board of directors, and administered by a professional staff. APEX's main headquarters is in New York, NY, USA.
What are the benefits of APEX membership? APEX provides its members with critical education/training, valuable networking opportunities, exclusive information/research resources, technical standards and guidelines, global industry recognition, and showcases for the latest airline passenger experience products, content and services.
What are the Avion Awards? The Avion Awards are awarded annually to those airlines with the finest inflight programming in the world, as judged by an independent international panel of media experts. The Avion Awards are announced during a special ceremony held in conjunction with APEX EXPO. The awards honor the best in airline inflight video and audio programming, inflight magazines, and inflight entertainment guides. The awards ceremony culminates with the naming of the top Avion Award, "Best Overall IFE," honoring the airline with highest ratings across the key judging categories.
What is IFE? Strictly speaking, IFE stands for inflight entertainment; but, as passenger systems have evolved to include communications (telephony, fax, e-mail, data links), information (news, weather, stock quotes, web content), and interactive services (video games, shopping/e-commerce, surfing the web), the term "IFE" has likewise grown to encompass all of the various entertainment, communications and information content, features, and options available to the airline passenger on commercial aircraft. IFE is also the general term for all the hardware and software systems that deliver this variety of content and connectivity to the passenger. Taken together, content and systems provide the airline the means to keep passengers satisfied, informed, entertained, and "connected" throughout their journey.
Specifically, IFE encompasses the following areas of participation:
- Airlines: from long-haul international airlines to short- and medium-haul national carriers to regional "short-hop" airlines.
- Aircraft Manufacturers: from twin-aisle intercontinental aircraft (widebodies) to medium & short-haul single-aisle aircraft (narrowbodies)
- Avionics Systems Providers: designers & developers of aircraft-certified video, audio and communications systems.
- Media Content Providers: movie studios, broadcast networks, TV producers, recording studios, magazine publishers, independent video producers, Internet sources
- Programming Services: video & audio programming, licensing management, advertising representation, audio/video duplication/multi-language dubbing/digital mastering/post-production.
- Communications Companies: satellite and terrestrial telecommunications firms, satellite system operators, Internet and e-mail service providers.
What role does the airline play in IFE? Airlines play the most important role in the IFE industry. Airlines represent and interface with the ultimate customer -- the airline passenger -- with the purpose of creating a satisfying service experience for each traveler. Airlines identify what their passengers' needs are and manage the process to deliver the best possible IFE services to those passengers.
Why is IFE important to airlines? Passenger satisfaction is one of the top priorities for any airline, and IFE is a proven means to enhance the inflight experience. IFE is also a means to advance the airline's "brand," and to differentiate one airline's service from another's. To some extent, IFE is an effective way for an airline to express its own national or regional character.
What does an airline IFE manager do? Though there are exceptions, generally airline IFE managers are responsible for the selection of the various entertainment programs that will be played or exhibited on his/her airline. Varying with the size of the airline, the IFE manager may personally select each and every video title and audio passage and/or coordinate the publishing of the inflight magazine. But quite often, the IFE job is too big for one person to handle; and, the airline may establish a department to manage all of the IFE elements or it may hire an outside firm (see Programming Service Providers).
What role does an aircraft manufacturer play in IFE? Aircraft manufacturers establish quality standards for the type of IFE equipment that is to be installed on the aircraft they manufacture. Aircraft manufacturers play a key role in establishing processes, under guidance of the FAA and other airworthiness authorities, which ensure the safe operation of the IFE-equipped aircraft.
Are there IFE safety standards? Yes, absolutely. IFE systems are designed, manufactured and serviced in accordance with very strict guidelines established by the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency and other National airworthiness authorities, such as the UK's CAA and Japan's JCAB. No IFE system may be installed on any commercial jet aircraft without undergoing and passing an exhaustive series of technical qualification tests to ensure safety of operation.
AVIONICS SYSTEMS PROVIDERS
What kinds of IFE systems are there on aircraft? IFE systems vary in size and complexity. Some aircraft are equipped only with boarding music piped in over the overhead speaker system, while others feature sophisticated cabin-wide digital video, audio, game controllers and Internet connections.
Why are there so many kinds of IFE systems? Airlines generally make an analysis of what their passengers want from IFE and balance these requirements with the type and length of routes the airline will be operating. Short-haul flights are not conducive to showing a feature-length movie, so it is not likely video systems will be needed for this type of operation. Passengers on long-haul flights, on the other hand, tend to demand more IFE services from the airline.
MEDIA CONTENT PROVIDERS
Who supplies the movies? Movies for airline exhibition come from major movie studios, small independent ("indies") producers, broadcast networks, and international distribution sources.
Why are most airline movies exhibited weeks & months after theatrical release? In the U.S., movie producers make most of their money from theaters and home video. Airlines typically are licensed to exhibit a movie about two months after it has been shown in U.S. theaters and just prior to or concurrent with release to home video. This time gap is known as the "Airline Window."
Who selects the movies for the airline? - See also the Airlines section above. The Airline IFE manager is responsible for the movie selection, but he/she may get a lot of help in the process. Because there are scores of new films to review each month, there is no possible way for an IFE manager to watch every available film. The Programming Services firm provides a screening service for the airline taking in the tastes, preferences and policies of each client airline into the selection consideration.
How do I get my audio or video "content" considered for play on airlines?
Individuals or organizations who would like their "content" (music, film, short-subject, etc.) considered for airline inflight exhibition should contact one or more of the several "Service Companies" that handle content acquisition for their group of airline clients. Your "inquiry" to the Service Company (sent by e-mail to the company's main e-mail address) should describe your "content" with as much detail as possible so the company can determine whether it has enough interest to proceed further (e.g., request a "sample"). Click here for a list of APEX-Member companies.
Why are airline movies edited and who edits them? Most airline movies are edited for two reasons: for technical exhibition reasons and for content. First, feature films are created with an aspect ratio for exhibition on wide-screen movie theaters, whereas for airline exhibition, these films must be modified to fit on the smaller overhead video screens or on the small in-seat LCD monitors. Second, because airlines carry young children as well as a diverse population of passengers from diverse cultures, many airlines require movie edits for language, sex, violence and political or religious content. The film distributor generally handles this process.
I like the “family-friendly” edited version of the movie I saw inflight. Can I get a hold of this airline version? Because of special licensing arrangements between the film studio/distributor and the film producer/director, the “airline-edited” version of the film typically cannot be made available for rental/purchase to the general public. If, however, you wish to inquire, you should contact the Home Video Division of the particular film studio/distributor for the film in which you're interested. (Please note that the airline that exhibited the film does not own the film and cannot provide copies of the airline-edited version.)
Who selects the audio programs, and why can't I buy them? Most airlines hire audio programming firms to compile playlists for their various audio channels. These programming firms typically provide the DJs or host accompaniment, license the music, and duplicate the music on tape or CD. Most airline music licenses are for play-only and not for re-sale. Occasionally, the artist or record company will enter into an agreement to allow a work to be played on aircraft and sold to the passenger. This is a relatively rare occurrence inasmuch as the record company typically wants to sell the entire original CD/tape.
How are movies dubbed for foreign languages? There are several post-production companies worldwide that specialize in providing foreign language dubbing for movies. Dubbing is an exacting and difficult process. Most dubbed movies require skilled interpretations of dialog matched to actors' verbal actions. Quite often, movie director approval is required for release of any foreign-language dubbed feature film. The film distributor generally handles this process.