Get to Know Senior Tech Fellow John Buchanan

What do you do in your current role as senior tech fellow?

A senior tech fellow is recognized as having significant knowledge and experience in a specific field. In my case it’s in-flight connectivity (IFC). SeaTec’s first project as a company was helping three airlines in a joint venture to provide internet access to passengers. At the time I worked for Delta Air Lines[JB1] , one of the three airlines. Since joining SeaTec 20 years ago, I’ve managed multiple IFC projects for customer airlines involving strategy development, performance assessments, user experience benchmarking and source selection.

When not working on an IFC project, I support other projects in a variety of roles. Most recently I’ve led a SeaTec team helping a major U.S. airline replace their flight planning system.

why did you choose this career path?

Before SeaTec I worked as an avionics engineer at Delta, where I was responsible for several airplane communications and navigation systems. My last role was on the joint venture I mentioned. It exposed me to not only the technological aspects of IFC but also the business considerations of a joint venture. Working alongside SeaTec let me see how consulting often combines the two. I wanted a career that did the same.


Airplanes and airlines are fascinating and complex entities. Even though I understand the physics of flight I still find it amazing. Similarly, the logistical and organizational effort needed to successfully run an airline is remarkable – and difficult. As a result, our customers often bring us challenging, complex and diverse problems. Helping them successfully solve those problems and meet their goals is very fulfilling to me.

why seatec?

Don Ferrel, SeaTec’s founder, was the consultant working on the IFC joint venture, so I got to know him fairly well. Soon after 9/11 the three airlines pulled out of the joint venture, and a colleague and I left Delta for graduate school. While we were in school, Don asked us to do some consulting work on the side, which we did. We both joined SeaTec after we graduated. While my story is more pragmatic than inspiring, the many qualities that make SeaTec special – culture, camaraderie and work ethic, for example – were personified from the beginning by Don, making SeaTec a very attractive and fulfilling place to work.