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 the third post, we’ve sat down with Aireon’s Director of Safety Assurance and Service Operations, Josh Little.
1) What has your experience been working remotely on Aireon’s configuration management processes during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Fortunately, we setup our processes to be remotely accessible from the beginning. It was a requirement since our engineering, development, and test teams are located in several places around the United States. So for us, the COVID-19 pandemic did not require us to change how we do business. However, it did put more pressure on ensuring the meetings we hold are structured and follow an agenda so that we achieve the goal of the meeting in a more time efficient manner.
2) Have any changes affected your day-to-day processes?
Well, right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there was some change in the responsibilities of the team. I moved to the Director of Safety and Service Operations and another colleague moved into my previous role as Configuration Management Manager. The transition has been a little more difficult since it has mostly been done remotely but by using virtual meeting tools such as Microsoft Teams, we have been able to keep good communication and a clear understanding of each of our responsibilities.
3) Can you tell me about the most recent projects ongoing within the Configuration Management department of Aireon?
The configuration management team is currently working on Functional and Physical Configuration Audit (FCA/PCA). The FCA/PCA is to ensure that what we expect to be in our production environment is actually what is in our production environment. The team is working alongside the Aireon systems testing team and our vendors to execute and complete this activity by the middle of October. It will be the official turnover of the Aireon Service from Aireon Systems Engineering to Aireon Operation. The configuration management team is also reviewing all of our processes to identify areas of improvement. Since the processes have been running for almost two years now, it is a good time to see what is working well and what isn’t. We will see some significant improvements by the end of the year in how we review and approve some of those requests pertaining to change control and data release requests.
4) What has been the biggest challenge/positive aspect to working from your home?
I think the biggest challenge to working remotely was finding ways to have those informal discussions that you could previously have in the hallway, when at the office. Instead, now my calendar is filled with meetings from 8:00am to 2:00pm with meetings that would probably take a lot less time if we were in person. The positive aspect is absolutely the reduction in the commute time. I live about 50 miles away from the Aireon corporate office and the commute usually averaged about an hour and half in one direction. Having all that time back during my day has been nice.
5) Is there anything you’d like to add?
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to tighten our belts, we continue to not lose sight of Aireon’s main mission: to provide space-based ADS-B to ANSPs for aircraft surveillance and decreased separation. The safe operation of our service must be our number one priority, which means that every decision made within the company must be considered on the impact to our operations.