What will it take to complete the first all-new, air-to-ground in-flight connectivity network in the USA in more than a decade? For SmartSky the move involves transitioning the organizational structure, refocusing on the technical milestones required. The company appointed a Chief Technology Officer for the first time, with long-time employee David Claassen taking over that role.
Claassen will direct SmartSky’s technology strategy and execution, including development and delivery of innovative technical solutions from its portfolio of patents, as the company moves forward to empower the growing connected aircraft market.
As we move forward, David Claassen has the technical acumen and service-launch background to help guide us into our next stage as an operational ATG network services provider. Under his focused technical leadership, SmartSky will push innovation in aviation communications for years to come.– SmartSky CEO David Helfgott
Bringing a CTO on board this far into the platform development may come across as surprising. But new Vice President for Marketing and Partnerships Britt Wanick explains it as a natural evolution of the company’s approach to the market. “We are moving towards the launch of the network, and [Classen] has experience in being able to move from the research and development side into the operational side of systems. It was just the right time for this company to assign that new role and to move David into it as we move towards launch.”
On top of the core network launch Classen will oversee the ancillary product developments within the organization. SmartSky holds more than 200 patents, a position Wanick notes “brings with it a significant promise of technology, and to deliver on that promise requires some proven leadership that David brings to us around innovation.”
Establishment of the CTO role comes as the company retires the Chief Commercial Officer position. The job was handled by Nancy Walker prior to her jump to Global Eagle last month. The company now expects President Ryan Stone to cover those responsibilities going forward.
Towering technical tasks
While SmartSky focuses on future innovation powered by its patent portfolio in the announcement, the company must still bring the core network online. That involves transitioning to a new supplier thanks to lawsuits related to the partnership with WSS, as well as fixing some long-standing and significant challenges to the technology stack.
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