cockpit illustration

1090 Global

The Weekly Five: Interview with Chris Devlin, Director of Product Management


Welcome to Aireon’s blog series, “The Weekly Five” in which we will ask five quick questions to our team members to educate and share how Aireon has been continuing 24/7 operations during the pandemic and what we’re learning along the way. For this post, we’ve sat down with Aireon’s Director of Product Management, Chris Devlin.

1) What excites you most about the possibilities of Aireon’s data?
The obvious answer is the global nature of our data, but truthfully the thing that excites me most is the ability to be part of the solution for the changing aviation paradigm. Over the next 10 years, the aviation industry will see more change than it has in the previous 40. Commercial space operations, upper airspace operations, integration of unmanned aviation systems, and trajectory-based operations will each fundamentally change the role of air traffic management, and all necessitate that ubiquitous and accurate data is readily available to all stakeholders. Only Aireon is in a position to provide surveillance data that meets that need and I am very excited about the opportunity to support the community throughout that transition.

2) What products have you been working on since joining the Aireon Team?
When I arrived at Aireon, we already had a baselined and operational air traffic surveillance product, however, our data was primarily only being used for that purpose. So, we started working on developing tools and capabilities that will enable our data to meet the need of other stakeholders such as airlines, analysts, researchers, and safety professionals. We have built out a robust analytical platform for capturing aviation data and fusing it with our surveillance quality trajectory data. This enables stakeholders to consume our data and immediately use it to drive their decision making processes. Additionally, we are making huge strides in how we deliver the data to our end users. This is a huge challenge that we had to overcome because our data can be used in many different environments from driving air traffic flow management tools and capabilities to finding out the location of a single aircraft. These different use cases require us to manage data provenance and added value measurements in a transparent way.

3) How will these products/solutions make a difference in the aviation industry as a whole?
Two of the biggest challenges in aviation have been managing disparate data and timeliness of data. The Aireon data environment offers our partners an ability to both access near real time data and take advantage of the global knowledge base. For example, many ANSPs or regulators have restrictions on their ability to share data, additionally silos of innovation have developed differing ways of calculating the same or similar derivative measures. This has led to regional safety sharing groups unable to decipher real events from differences in data or algorithms. With our data we can scale solutions globally with a certified, surveillance quality data. This will enable these safety sharing organizations to focus on identifying risk as opposed to focusing on data differences. Additionally, since our data is available in near real time, those organizations will be able to measure the efficacy of mitigations almost immediately whereas currently it could take 3 months to a year before you know whether the mitigation was successful in reducing the risk of the operation.

4) Has it been difficult to connect with other organizations and aviation stakeholders since the work-from-home orders have been put into effect?
Certainly work-from-home has created additional challenges for the aviation industry, and engaging with stakeholders was more difficult at first. However, I have found that we have all gotten into the routine of meeting virtually and I have been impressed about how strong a connection you can have through these channels. In fact, in many circumstances, its more intimate of a connection; You are inviting people into your home and they are inviting you into their home. Many of my meetings now end with one of my children peaking over my shoulder to say hello!

6) Do you have anything else to add?
The global COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every industry and aviation is no different. The aviation industry saw more than a 75% reduction in movements at the lowest point. However, there were still more than 25,000 movements each day. As we are starting to see the initial signs of the industry rebound, I awestruck by my aviation colleagues who ensured the safety and efficiency of those flights. I am very confident that this industry will recover because of those safety professionals, I feel very fortunate to be a member of this industry during this time.