APEX 2021: Celebrating Partnership, Teamwork and the Future of Flight

Panasonic Avionics< Panasonic Avionics
12/08/21 4 MIN READ

Safety, sustainability, and synergy may have been the unofficial keywords at the APEX/IFSA Expo in Long Beach, California, last week, but for most of the attendees, the real draw was the chance to reconnect with customers, partners, and friends, many of whom hadn’t seen each other in person for almost two years.

Things kicked off on Monday with United CEO Scott Kirby’s keynote discussion on sustainability and passenger centricity and was followed by thought leadership sessions on technology and content, health and safety, and creating genuine airline ‎environmental sustainability.

Though there was no official theme for the show, many conversations focused on the importance of working together to rebuild and restore the industry with sustainability in mind. And even in the shadow of the latest COVID-19 variant, masked and vaccinated attendees from around the globe celebrated the resilience of the aviation industry with a newfound sense of optimism.

Panasonic Avionics CEO Ken Sain was among them. “The past year and a half has presented us with many challenges,” says Sain. “But if we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that we do not exist in a vacuum and that our industry is stronger and better when we work together, particularly on providing an engaging passenger experience, increasing ancillary revenue opportunities, and improving operational efficiencies for the airline.”

Collaboration is King

The value of collaboration proved especially true during the Expo’s APEX/IFSA Awards ceremony on Tuesday night, where two products from Panasonic Avionics’ airline partners took top honors in a field of extremely competitive nominees.

First up was United Airlines, who took home the award for Best In-Flight Entertainment Innovation for their Signature Interior Bluetooth product. Developed through a partnership with Panasonic Avionics, this game-changing solution—which allows passengers to wirelessly pair their Bluetooth-enabled headphones with the seatback IFE screen in-flight—launched earlier this year across United’s new Boeing 737 MAX narrowbody fleet.

 United Airlines and Panasonic Avionics teams receiving the Best Inflight Entertainment Innovation award

Our partner WestJet also took home the prestigious Best Inflight Connectivity Innovation award for their ZeroTouchTM product. Cutting media load times by a whopping 85%, ZeroTouch was developed in close collaboration with our innovation teams at Panasonic Avionics and looks to change the way airlines and their passengers think about in-flight connectivity in the post-pandemic era.

“Digital innovations on the work and home front during the pandemic have raised the bar for passenger expectations in the aircraft cabin considerably,” says Sain. “We are proud to be part of the teams helping to meet that demand head-on with a host of passenger experience-friendly innovations like our Bluetooth product for United and WestJet’s ZeroTouch solution. It’s been said before but I’ll say it again: when it comes to innovation, collaboration is king.”

WestJet and Panasonic Avionics teams receiving the Best Inflight Connectivity Innovation award

eX1 Takes Home Award for Bluetooth Capabilities

Panasonic Avionics also had another big win last week when we took home the 2021 Popular Science Best of What’s New Award — Aerospace Category, for our enhanced Bluetooth audio technology featured on our  eX1 in-flight entertainment solution for narrowbody aircraft.

Available in every seat and across all cabin classes, our solution optimizes emitted Bluetooth signal levels to each passenger’s travel space, significantly reducing the chance of interference between seats. Already hugely popular with airlines and passengers alike, our solution took wing earlier this year on United’s new Boeing 737 MAX fleet, Saudi Arabian Airlines. and select Cathay Pacific Airways flights worldwide.

Echoing the sentiments of many of those in attendance at the Expo, Sain says that embracing new ideas and innovation has never been more important. “This is our moment, our time to look forward and imagine a different way of traveling,”  he explains. “We’re working toward a safer, more sustainable, more streamlined, and digitally connected passenger journey, from end to end.”

Looking Forward: The Panasonic Avionics Promise

As the Expo wrapped up on Thursday afternoon, one thing became clear: this very welcome return to in-person events was about more than buying or selling products and services. It was about reconnecting as an industry.

The challenges and disruptions facing us at present are complex and ongoing, but we firmly believe that the best way to tackle them is by innovating and evolving together. Panasonic Avionics hopes to help move the needle even further in that regard in the months and years ahead by continuing to support our partners at every turn.

“Partnering with Panasonic Avionics is about much more than offering you access to an award-winning portfolio of digital solutions. It’s also about providing the strength, stability, and support to weather whatever storm comes next, together,” says Sain.

As we strive to develop new and meaningful passenger engagement tools and navigate the recovery, it’s important to remember the human element in all of this. It’s been a rough couple of years, and we’ve genuinely missed working with all of you in person. To borrow a line from APEX/IFSA CEO Joe Leader, “It’s good to be back!”

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