Getting Technical in Texas: SD’s 14th Annual Connecting with Customers (CwC) Conference

CwC 2018

SD’s 14th Annual Connecting with Customers (CwC) conference took place in Austin, TX, Feb 19-22. We welcomed over 300 customers, partners, and industry leaders to discuss the latest developments in business aviation technology.

The theme of CwC 2018 was the SD Ecosystem at work – how SD Connectivity, Hardware, and Integrated Software work together to synchronize the aircraft with flight ops, while delivering an unmatched user experience. From pre-flight planning, to in-flight connectivity and entertainment, to post-flight reporting, SD is the common thread that simplifies the communications process and brings all of the pieces together for a more efficient operation and premium experience.

SD Pro is the integrated software platform that allows this vision to come to life. Our development team shared details about the product roadmap, and features that are soon to be released, including the SD Scheduler module. We also discussed the important role that SD Avionics plays in this system; our hardware platforms not only optimize the onboard network for a tailored connectivity experience in the air, they also capture critical aircraft data and report into SD Pro. This information allows automation of traditional processes to support a more accurate and more efficient operation. The SD Avionics team presented key advancements in hardware that make this possible, as well as compelling ideas on what this could mean for future development.

As we continue to develop this software, supporting the best possible experience in the air has remained a priority, and SD Connectivity Services offer the widest range of connectivity options available in business aviation. Our network partners shared their latest news at the conference, including exciting developments from ATG network provider, SmartSky, who is looking to launch their 4G LTE service to business aviation later this year. Matt Desch, Iridium CEO, presented the updates in Certus development, including their selection of COMSAT as the exclusive service provider for US D.O.D. users. We also welcomed Rupert Pearce, Inmarsat CEO, who spoke about the experience of launching the first Ka-band solution in business aviation, and also presented SD with a commemorative plaque to celebrate SD’s 10th year as a SwiftBroadband Distribution Partner this year!

David Greenhill and Rupert Pearce

Viasat joined the conversation with exciting news about the first-ever dual-band solution, which they will be launching later this year.

CwC 2018 also addressed the importance of cyber security in aviation. Our keynote speaker Kevin Mitnick, the world’s most famous hacker, had fascinating stories to share! It was alarming to watch in real-time how simple it was for Kevin to gain access to very personal data. Just a reminder of how important it is for us to be vigilant about keeping our private data private – both personal and business. SD’s cyber security experts followed with some real-world examples of cyber threats in aviation today. Our recently launched Threat Monitoring service has given our customers much more insight into the threats that are present on a daily basis, and how SD’s software and proactive monitoring catches and blocks these malicious attempts before they can cause damage. Our team reviewed common scenarios and recommended practices for passengers and crew to lessen vulnerabilities, and we also offered our latest training course, the CyberSAFE certification.

We were also honored to welcome guest speaker Robert “Hoot” Gibson, retired NASA astronaut, who shared his amazing stories about his galactic adventures and pilot experiences. With such a diverse and incredible background, Hoot reinforced something we all feel – a love for aviation, and the passion to continue advancing our industry. That passion drives what we do at SD every day – from developing technology, to developing training to keep up with it – and it’s the reason we continue to host our Connecting with Customers conference each year.

CwC 2018 Guest Speakers: Kevin Mitnick (left) and Robert “Hoot” Gibson (right)

This event wouldn’t be possible without the support of our sponsors. Your partnership and continued support are valued and very much appreciated. A special call out to our Platinum level sponsors: Viasat, Gulfstream, Iridium and Inmarsat – thank you!

We hope to see you all next year at CwC 2019 – look out for event details to be announced soon!

CwC Photos


If you couldn’t make it to this year’s 2018 Conference, be sure to check out our upcoming International CwC Workshop – Basel on April 24th! Click here for more info and to register.