APEX in Profile: Shankar Velusamy

Image: Ackila

Shankar Velusamy
Co-founder and CTO
Ackila

Shankar has 20 years of experience in in-flight entertainment (IFE) and extensive knowledge of major IFE and connectivity systems. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Cal Poly Pomona and is skilled in software development, project and resource management, and technical sales. He lives in Orange County, California, with his wife and daughter – and soon-to-be-born twins.

Fast Facts:
Frequent flight: LAX
Favorite airport: HKG
Favorite aircraft: Boeing 747
Brand of suitcase: Samsonite
Seatback or PED: Both

Did you choose the airline industry or did it choose you?
It chose me. I started in 1997 as an intern at Rockwell Collins in Pomona, California, then jumped to four other companies in the industry and finally decided to start Ackila in 2010.

Every job has a cool factor. What’s yours?
Working with the team at Ackila. We have a great and enthusiastic group of people who love to work on new technologies. They are not afraid of a challenge and love building cool things. This makes it more of a hobby than a job.

“Although allowing each passenger to stream content from the ground is a few years away, it is the path the industry must move toward.” – Shankar Velusamy

Why is connectivity important to the passenger experience?
Currently, passengers have the capability to stay connected via social media using their personal devices. The expectation of passengers having access to their own on-demand content while in the air is increasing. Although allowing each passenger to stream content from the ground is a few years away – economically and technically – it is the path the industry must move toward.

How important is social media for an airline in the digital age? It is very important.
The millennial generation and many others are obsessed with sharing every aspect of their lives on social media. The ability to stay connected for this purpose is already an expectation for a lot of passengers.

What’s your first travel memory?
It was a Pan Am flight from the United States to India. I was about four or five years old and I remember thinking the audio coming out of the hollow tube headset was the coolest thing ever! I would unplug the headset and put my head against the armrest to hear the music coming out of the holes. I just looked it up: They were called pneumatic headsets.

Favorite snack and go-to drink order on board?
Rum and Coke, and my favorite snack on board is the hot noodle dish they offer on the Asian carriers.

Best place for planespotting?
The Proud Bird by LAX. It’s a restaurant with a mini airplane museum located at the tip of the main LAX runway. They have several airplanes on display behind the restaurant, and it’s a great spot to watch the planes take off and land. It’s amazing to watch and hear a 747 fly right over your head just before its wheels touch the ground.

What did you do the first time you used in-flight Wi-Fi?
It was the Connection by Boeing system on a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to LAX. I remember testing out a Skype video call and downloading a few MP3 songs.

If you could fly anywhere right now, where would it be?
Probably Cairo. I’ve been fascinated by the pyramids since I was a child and hope to visit Egypt some day.

“APEX in Profile: Shankar Velusamy” was originally published in the 7.5 December/January issue of APEX Experience magazine.