Satcom Direct

What It Is: Florida-based Satcom Direct, which is privately owned, provides airborne voice and data connectivity services worldwide. Its customers include operators of more than 7,500 business and general aviation, military, and government aircraft.

How It Grew: Aiming to provide “seamless communications” so aircraft passengers could operate their cell phones “just as they do on the ground,” satcom systems engineer Jim Jensen founded Satcom Direct in 1997. Two years later, he received a patent for Global One Number, “the foundation of the company,” as Jensen has called it, which allowed direct calls to and from an aircraft with a fixed monthly bill. With David Greenhill, Jensen founded subsidiary Satcom Direct Communications, which began offering onboard internet connectivity in 2003. 

To learn more about his customers, Jensen learned how to fly that same year, and he has since continued using business aircraft to expand the company’s reach. As he saw the need for connectivity in the cockpit, Satcom Direct introduced Flight Deck Freedom in 2007, and with a demand for aviation connectivity specialists growing, the FAA approved the company’s pioneering Inmarsat Satellite Communications training course in 2010.

In 2011, Satcom Direct established its Mobile Applications division, which offers a portfolio of connectivity tools and apps, and international expansion commenced the following year, with office locations today including Basel and Geneva, Switzerland; Moscow; Dubai, UAE; and Hong Kong.

In 2013, the company unveiled its Satcom Direct Router, opened its SD Data Center, and launched its GlobalVT talk and text service as well as its AeroIT certification course for aviation technicians. 

Two years later, the company moved its headquarters from Satellite Beach to a purpose-built campus in Melbourne, Florida. Its main building resembles an aircraft, with a central fuselage section and two angled wings.

The company launched the SD Pro data-management portal and SD WiFi Hub onboard booster in 2016, and that same year it acquired Comsat, AircraftLogs, and TrueNorth Avionics, which manufactures its onboard router. Over the next two years, the company offered the first Cabin Crew Connectivity Certification and introduced SD LTE Hub, a Security Solutions portfolio, and the SD Scheduler app.

In April 2019 Satcom Direct became launch distributor for Intelsat’s Ku-band FlexExec global broadband satcom service, claimed to be the first such service created exclusively for business aviation.

What It Offers:

Connectivity. Onboard data and services plans for satellite and air-to-ground connectivity.

Hardware. Onboard Wi-Fi routers, hubs, servers, and connectivity equipment.

Training. Connectivity certification courses for technicians and cabin crews.

Recent News:

In October, Satcom Direct released SD PostFlight, which it bills as the first web-based auto-populating aircraft logbook app.


FAST FACTS

Founded: 1997

HQ: Melbourne, Florida

Employees: about 340

Founder and CEO: Jim Jensen

Website: satcomdirect.com

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