As the Senior Director responsible for client services, Josh Wheeler manages delivery of the SD Entry into Service program, a training initiative enabling clients to optimize the increasingly powerful, tailored connectivity solutions SD delivers to owners, operators, crew and flight departments.
Q: Can you explain more about the EIS program and its benefits to customers?
As a customer-centric business, we want to ensure our clients can maximize the full potential of their connectivity system. We also recognize that supporting connectivity on board is the responsibility of more than one person, and on larger-cabin aircraft, the crew, passengers, and flight departments all use the rich functionality in different ways. Each freshly installed or updated system incorporates new features, is individually configured and designed specifically for the aircraft owner, and the EIS program showcases the possibilities from nose to tail through all phases of flight.
Q: Where does the training happen?
Training typically takes place at the dedicated SD EIS hangar at our Melbourne, FL. flight department. We also provide the option for onsite EIS workshops at the customer’s location. The content is delivered through classroom sessions and uniquely via on-wing demonstrations too. Of course, the current pandemic has required us to re-evaluate and adjust our methods to ensure everyone’s safety. For grounded customers, online training delivered by our SD EIS technical professionals provides an opportunity to upgrade knowledge and expertise.
Q: What content is featured in the program?
Since each customer and aircraft connectivity mission is different, the workshops are tailored to specific needs. The general course content includes Satcom 101, network theory (including a breakdown of VPNs), the challenges of streaming, potential service limitations (for example how weather affects connectivity), and how to troubleshoot the system. We typically offer two phases: the first is classroom-based with theory that focuses on the SD ecosystem of hardware, software, and infrastructure and how they are integrated; the second is on wing to practically apply the theory and play out scenarios, and ensure the aircraft is configured to do exactly what the client needs. The content varies for each attendee too. The program content for pilots will be different to that delivered to maintenance teams or cabin crew. SD is committed to raising industry standards and with the EIS program we are providing useful practical experience, while ensuring that industry knowledge and understanding of connectivity is augmented.
Q: Why does the customized training matter?
The very nature of a tailored connectivity installation requires that those onboard are familiar with the possibilities and intricacies of the system. We know OEMs deliver great general information, and our training then provides more detailed content to ensure that our customers are using the system that was designed for their aircraft, and specific mission, to its full potential. The whole process is also vital in reassuring the pilots and flight attendants that, in the case where they have to escalate an issue to the NOC or their flight department, they will know how to explain what the problem is, which will help us resolve the situation more quickly.
Q: How has the EIS training evolved since introduction?
The EIS program is a natural extension of our in-house training curriculum which began with basic training about SATCOM systems, and progressed into the aeroIT certificated program for aviation IT professionals and the aeroCNCT course, also certified, for flight attendants and technicians.
The EIS program evolved from the feedback we received from customers who wanted to have more in-depth knowledge about optimal usage, particularly as they became more integrated across the whole flight operation. The EIS program is an intelligent blend of award-winning customer support and practical connectivity training resulting in a one-of-a-kind industry program. Each time we deliver the personalized workshop to participants, we enable our customers to maximize their connectivity journey experience.
Q: What’s next for EIS?
This year we are launching the very hands-on EIS VVIP program. At the customer’s request, we fly with the principal or owner to individually guide them through the whole connectivity experience. This helps support their understanding of how the investment they have made adds value to their aircraft, their experience and the flight operations, and has been welcomed by owners, VIPs, and CEOs who wish to dive deeper into connectivity.
An SD technician can spend up to two weeks with an owner and their flight department to individually walk them through the system during real-time operations. This supports customer understanding, helps to set expectations, and allows our team to gain a better understanding of changing customer trends and needs too. We remain committed to enhancing our offering and the feedback gained through these sessions provides us with valuable information about where products and service enhancements would make connectivity even more valuable for our customers.
Q: Can you tell us more about the new EIS VVIP service?
We consider it a privilege to fly with our customers which means we want to make the most of our time with them. We work around their schedule, and to the level with which they are comfortable. It’s all about optimizing their system for what they specifically want to do. They invest large sums of money for their inflight connectivity services, and we are here to ensure they get the most of out them. It’s a totally tailored experience.