CONNECTING BUSINESS AVIATION - Nathan Andrews, APAC Regional Director, SATCOM Direct

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In response to a growing demand for its extensive range of connectivity services Satcom Direct proudly opened the doors of its new Wanchai, Hong Kong offices in April. The move to larger premises bolsters the company’s Asia Pacific footprint, and forms part of a wider strategy which continues to provide unparalleled products and exceptional customer support to the region.

“This new location has numerous benefits for our customers. It places us closer to them, so we can better monitor, track and proactively manage their connectivity. We can also meet with them more regularly. This adds value as it improves our ability to deliver a seamless connectivity experience and ensure expectations are being met,” explains Nathan Andrews, APAC regional director. SD’s new residence incorporates high-tech offices, meeting rooms, and a workspace for demonstrating products and services. This space also doubles-up as a training, customer event and workshop area.

“Customers here understand the value of connectivity and quickly embrace each technical evolution,” says Andrews. Driven by the significant growth of the Asia Pacific market, and particularly Chinese business aviation expansion, SD’s market share is increasing. An array of customers including business jet management companies, operators, private owners, and corporate flight departments are signing up for the company’s tailored connectivity services. “We are genuinely committed to this region and deem our presence essential to maintain customer service levels, provide innovative products, manage efficient operations and keep our competitive edge.”

SD does this by providing some of the most technically advanced connectivity  products on the market. It is currently the world’s largest value added reseller of Jet ConneX, Inmarsat’s Ka-band service which delivers the fastest broadband to business aviation, with the most extensive global coverage. “We have worked with Jet ConneX from market introduction, consequently we have a deep knowledge of the product,” says Andrews. Building on this experience SD has developed guaranteed Service Level Agreement (SLA) options to support Jet ConneX customers. The industry first SLAs include onsite support, proactive monitoring, outage notifications and guaranteed email and phone call response times. “Jet ConneX customers invest in cutting-edge technology. It makes sense that they invest in the best, most responsive customer service to support it.”

The latest innovation from SD is the industry’s first suite of cyber security solutions. As the amount of data being transmitted increases, the need to protect networks is imperative. “We’ve developed a four-tier approach that can be tailored to monitor threats and provide resolutions,” explains Andrews. The portfolio includes a network evaluation which identifies areas needing attention. An onsite risk assessment establishes vulnerabilities and potential threats, and a threat analysis and active monitoring service detects, and blocks intrusion attempts in real time. Underpinning the scope of services is the SD Private Network, which allows satellite and air to ground connectivity providers to connect to aircraft via the SD Data Center and its multiple Points of Presence (POPs) worldwide. IT departments can use this service to apply corporate compliance protocols to an aircraft, just as they would with any other company office location.

Creating robust systems that maintain productivity and efficiency is an essential part of the SD approach. The company is uniquely . positioned to do this as it owns the pre-requisite infrastructure, hardware, software systems and customer support services, to fulfill even the most complex of connectivity requirements. The SD Data Centre provides a full end to end military-grade cyber security network. SD Avionics, the manufacturing division produces 90% of the industry’s cabin networking routers, and SD’s in-house developers have created, developed and built the software delivering management and flight operations tools. As an airtime distributor SD remains agnostic, having developed strong relationships with the leading companies providing aviation airtime.

Enhanced levels of customer support also enhance the SD offering. “Our team understands all the services we work with, so if any one part of the system fails, even if it’s not with our equipment, we can invariably identify, and often even resolve the issue ourselves. This is a major advantage for customers. In fact, we will often spot an impending issue and resolve it before it affects the customer,” says Andrews.

Industry support is also provided by SD’s certified connectivity training courses. “Connectivity is such an important part of the sector that we wanted to provide our industry colleagues, from cabin crew through to IT managers, with useful, practical and recognizable qualifications that improve their career profile,” explains Andrews. “SD is the only connectivity corporation to offer accredited professional qualifications.” It is no coincidence SD was presented with the Best Operational Support Award at AsBAA’s 2017 IOA event.

Looking to the future SD is set on expanding its horizons. “We are laying the foundations to prepare for what we anticipate will be the next phase of connectivity, the need to synchronize all phases of flight. As flight operations become increasingly digitized the aviation community will become more dependent on connectivity, and we will be there to support it,” concludes Andrews.