Etihad Airways has won the 2010 Avion Award for “best single achievement in in-flight entertainment” for its innovative “E-BOX” system at the Airline Passenger Experience Association’s (APEX) Annual Conference and Exhibition held in California.

APEX (formerly the World Airline Entertainment Association) showcases new industry products and innovations at the annual exhibition as well as recognising success within the industry every year.

E-BOX, available on Etihad aircraft in English and Arabic, was first introduced across the airline’s fleet in August 2009.

It allows customers to navigate a wealth of films, television shows, music, games and information easily. It also now includes a range of innovative services such as meal and duty free ordering, live text news, and seat-to-seat email and sms communication.

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “IFE is a key element of an air traveller’s overall experience and Etihad has worked with dedication to ensure that we offer the very best in product innovation.

“To see our innovation being recognised by what is considered the most prestigious IFE innovation award in the industry, against some tough competition, is highly satisfying and will ensure that we raise the bar even further in the coming 12 months.”

The E-BOX user interface was designed to provide customers with quicker access to selected services and entertainment options with as few “clicks” as possible, making it possible to personalise the interactive experience.

According to the panel of judges: “The E-BOX looks great and pleases passengers and cabin crew alike, but ultimately it was something under the skin that swayed the judges – the ease and flexibility with which the graphic user interface can be modified to incorporate new functions, accommodate the needs of different passenger demographics, and discreetly manage system outages.”

Other innovative features and applications of the E-BOX include a USB Media Player. This feature allows customers to view photos and videos via the USB port installed at all seats. Customers can also share photos with other guests on the flight. MP3 audio files can also be accessed.

Customers in First Class can order items from the dining menu via the E-BOX from the comfort of their private suite. Customers in First and Business Class can also place their breakfast orders via the IFE system.

Apart from tracking the usage of entertainment options, Etihad can also track which applications are used, and how the passenger navigates around the system. This assists greatly with future developments and allows Etihad to tailor programming and options to customers’ tastes.

Cabin crew members can also send messages directly to the customer from the crew terminal. This service has been further enhanced by adding an “Inbox” at the seat. If a specific message is sent to a seat or a group of seats, the message is stored in an inbox.

Mr Baumgartner added: “The strengths of the E-BOX is that not only does it take into account the passenger experience, but it also allows Etihad’s IFE team to easily update the numerous elements within the system quickly and easily.”