East Aurora, NY | January 15, 2015– Astronics Corporation (NASDAQ: ATRO), a leading provider of advanced technologies for the global aerospace and defense industries, announced today that it completed the acquisition of Armstrong Aerospace (“Armstrong”) for approximately $52 million in cash on January 14, 2015.

Astronics previously announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Armstrong on December 24, 2014.

Armstrong Aerospace, located in Itasca, Illinois, was founded in 1996 and has 81 employees. Armstrong is a leading provider of engineering, design and certification solutions for commercial aircraft, specializing in connectivity, in-flight entertainment, and electrical power systems. For 2014, Armstrong had sales of approximately $27 million.

East Aurora, NY | December 24, 2014– Astronics Corporation (NASDAQ: ATRO), a leading provider of advanced technologies for the global aerospace and defense industries, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Armstrong Aerospace (“Armstrong”) for approximately $51 million. The agreement is expected to close in January 2015, subject to normal closing requirements.

Armstrong Aerospace, located in Itasca, Illinois, is a leading provider of engineering, design and  certification solutions for commercial aircraft, specializing in connectivity, in-flight entertainment, and electrical power systems. Armstrong sales for 2014 are expected to be approximately $27 million.

Peter J. Gundermann, CEO of Astronics, commented, “I am pleased to include Armstrong in the expanding range of capabilities that Astronics has to offer, specifically in the connectivity and power  niche for commercial airlines. Armstrong has a strong entrepreneurial spirit, advanced engineering proficiency and significant experience in providing certifications for OEMs, integrators and airlines. And, like us, they have a history of solid growth.”

With this acquisition, Astronics now expects 2015 revenue will be between $680 million to $725 million

Mesirow Financial acted as the exclusive financial advisor to Armstrong Aerospace.

This weeks SECRET HOT TOPIC: At AIX we were privileged to be let in on something that will forever change the world of onboard Wi-Fi “Hotspot” technology, by a company you know well! Stay Tuned on this one and before you buy an airborne Wi-Fi router, keep your eyes peeled for equipment that delivers the highest QUALITY service to airline passengers! More later!

We love AIX because your IFExpress team gets to meet the best people and because the folks who sell used equipment are always associated with, well, used equipment. The team at aviationscouts GmbH are the perfect example why that is not true. Dimitrios and Thomas are two guys who are cabin experts. As you may guess from their website, they are multitalented representatives, consultants and online marketeers, and as we found out, nice folks to match. While in their booth at the AIX in Hamburg we found a very new idea in buying and selling used cabin interior equipment over the Internet. And, they have access to a lot of pre-loved IFE and a multitude of other equipment. Did we mention that we were really impressed with their used seat sales approach… and it’s on your computer today. It’s pretty much a bid operation where you get a very good, rotatable image of worldwide available stock that airlines, resellers, MROs or leasing companies can list with all related details. You must visit their website – www.aviationgate.com. The cool part is that you can rotate the product to check out features of the hardware in real time to see if they fit your airline (or whatever) needs. You can next met the principles (Dimitrios Tsirangelos and Thomas Bulirsch) at this week’s ap&m (Global Procurement Expo) in London. We have it on a very good reference that these people know their business, and why not, their company reputation, experience, and even employee photo’s on their website, are the best in their industry as far as we know.

And speaking of meeting people, we ran into Paul Mees (COO) and Martijn Moret part of the team at Dutch IFE company, MI Airline. You might remember MI Airline. Here’s what they say about their product, AirFi: “Airlines without on-board WiFi capabilities have a new, low cost and flexible alternative to offer their passengers a ’connected’ experience with chat, games and ancillary sales. MI Airline is proud to announce the AirFi Box and AirFi Platform. It is a compact, portable, battery-powered and self-scaling WiFi network, not in any way connected to the aircraft. The AirFi Box is designed to be integrated into existing airline logistics and suitable to create an alternative Inflight Entertainment for all flights.” Remember? AirFi is, in short, classified as a T-PED (Transmitting Personal Electronic Device), offers lightweight multiplayer games, product catalogs, inflight ordering, (miles) payment capabilities using ‘Connected Crew’, digital magazines and newspapers, surveys, (group) chat, high value targeted advertising, destination information and basic flight information. AirFi is scalable and flexible without any modification to the aircraft. Now, wanna see a picture of a early demo unit used for testing? It’s about the size of a book and we were stunned when we saw it. Consider yourself lucky as not many people have see it!

Meet Armstrong Aerospace and Armstrong AeroMod. With over 130 total employees, Armstrong Aerospace and Armstrong AeroMod are industry “big dogs” in aero design, certification, manufacturing and installation. With over 125,000 square feet of facilities in the US, they will be a familiar name in IFEC. We like the idea that they look at design and certification work from concept to completion and, as Armstrong Aerospace’s Director of Programs Kevin Weppner told us, “time to market” is their mantra. As we understand it, Armstrong relies on 4 pillars of strengthEngineering, Analysis & Certification, Manufacturing; and in their own words, ‘Rapid Installation’. Rapid is very important when a fleet needs fast turnaround so the airline can provide new passenger services, particularly when these services will be delivering ancillary revenue. We understand they have the necessary space needed to manufacture, assemble and also install items like installation kits. This is a big deal and another reason why we like their approach to this type of business. Just as important is their sister company Armstrong AeroMod. AeroMod is a stand-alone entity that handles kit installations, and as a result, they influence Armstrong Aerospace’s designs and then “man-up” to perform the rapid installations. With over 20 years in the business, we asked what model aircraft Armstrong has worked on: “Let’s see,” said Kevin, “the Airbus A300/A320 family/A330/A340, and the Boeing B707/B727/B737/B747/B757/B767/B777/B787, not to mention a host of smaller commercial and business aircraft!” That about covers it. These folks know radomes too as they have had experience with the big ones. (As a side note, they developed BirdStriker, designed to deflect birds and completely protect radomes). We asked Kevin what kind of equipment Armstrong had in their design & installation portfolio and he rattled off a list that we had to keep up with (and we hope we got them all), “Inflight telephony and connectivity, Sat TV, Gatelink, Off-seat power, ELTs, TCAS, Autopilot, SATCOM, Wireless IFE, Pico-cell systems, Control panels, Rack & Pallets (pre-wired) and large radomes.” He noted that competitive MROs average 6+ days to complete a basic Wi-Fi retrofit installation and are not structured to perform this work quickly. Armstrong Aerospace and Armstrong AeroMod, on the other hand, do not use a dedicated crew for a particular install – their design flow is tailored with military precision to the install, not the crew! “Armstrong AeroMod workers are full-time and specialized, quite like Formula 1 teams, and we use multiple teams simultaneously. This approach proves itself out in the pace of installs AeroMod accomplishes. For instance: right now AeroMod is installing a satellite streaming and wireless IFE system with a large radome on 747s in less than four days.” And, we understand, they perform this feat worldwide. Check them out and ask Kevin for a presentation or a quote. IFExpress has been very impressed with their follow through.

Have you made arrangements to attend the next APEX TEC – the next one may be the best one yet? May 13-14 in Universal City, CA. Among the not-to-be-missed topics will be sessions on PED’s Inflight (including panelists from the FCC Wireless Bureau talking about FCC rule changes proposed for voice for cellphones onboard), Onboard Payment Technologies (featuring a presentation from the banking industry perspective by Chase Paymentech), and Closed Captions (including discussion of the DOT’s proposed rule change requiring captioning of all entertainment content). There’s more, click here.

Could this be the way that AT&T is heading for their aircraft connectivity beginning in 2015? Packet switched LTE radios/routers and VoIP apps may be their solution for higher bandwidth for fliers!

Finally, if you like kids and airplanes, you will love this Turkish Airways video advert!

It’s no secret that AIX is the worlds biggest Aircraft Interiors show (perhaps up to 10,000 visitors this year) and we wanted to give you a quick look at a few show-goers who have contacted us with booth and product information. Of course IFExpress will be there searching for new products and product improvements, new services, and interviews with the folks who bring you IFExpress. You can reach us via email: plwiseman@gmail.com, Mobile/Text: +1 206 229 7899, and we will have the Fire Chat app turned on (TerryW).

Aircraft Cabin Systems:
Booth #: 6C37
ACS will feature IFE Displays (10.4”-65” and 9.7”) as well as their recently patented 12” Retractable monitor at AIX this April. Additionally, ACS is collaborating with TEAC during AIX. TEAC is introducing their new video player at the Expo.
Contact: Charles Reerink
Mobile: + 33 608 907 746
Contact: Rick Routly
Email: rroutly@aircraftcabinsystems.com
Contact:Yukio Sugimoto
Email: sugimotoy@aircraftcabinsystems.com
Contact: Richie Sugimoto
Email: rich@aircraftcabinssytems.com

Armstrong Aerospace
The Armstrong Aerospace PowerBox™ and PowerBar™ are revolutionary off-seat power solutions that are available today. PowerBox™ and PowerBar™ attach to the floor seat tracks and do not touch the seats they are installed to support. This greatly eases the installation and risk for upgrading your cabin, and it ensures no new seat TSO activities or seat recertification efforts are required. PowerBox™ and PowerBar™ are capable of being used with any outlets and electrical distribution on the market today, making them the most flexible for installation. The simplicity of this design ensures they can be installed rapidly, typically in less than one day for a narrow body, and two days for a wide body.

The Armstrong Aerospace BirdStriker™ is the bird deflector device that is available TODAY to meet your bird strike certification needs.
BirdStriker™ ensures operators can benefit by:
• Finding Compliance with 14 CFR 25.571e1
• Improving aerodynamic efficiency of existing radomes by up to 30%
• Maintaining RF integrity of existing radomes
• Avoiding expensive and heavy installations due to the BirdStriker™ lightweight, composite material design
• Installations can be performed in less than 10 hours
Furthermore, Armstrong Aerospace was actively involved in the recent ARC recommendations to the FAA. (Note: Armstrong Aerospace will be walking the 2014 AIX floor.)
Contact: Kevin Weppner
Email: kevin.weppner@armstrongaerospace.com
Mobile: +1.630.280.9295

Astronics Corporation
Booth #: 6B30
Astronics Corporation (NASDAQ: ATRO) is a leader in advanced high-performance lighting, electrical power, specialized avionics products and automated test systems for the global aerospace and defense industries. Astronics Corporation, and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, AeroSat*, Astronics Advanced Electronics Systems Corp.*, Ballard Technology, Inc., DME Corporation*, Luminescent Systems Inc.*, Max-Viz, Inc., PECO*, and PGA Electronic*, have a reputation for high-quality designs, exceptional responsiveness, strong brand recognition and best-in-class manufacturing practices. For company news and other important information, visit the website at www.astronics.com. (* – Exhibiting at AIX)
Contact: Dennis Markert
Email: dennis.markert@astronics.com
Mobile: +1.425.442.8195

Booth #: 6B11
digEcor provides a low-cost, end-to-end cabin technology and inflight entertainment solution by specializing in personal media and AVOD platforms, mobile cabin crew applications, and being a global content service provider. We’ll be showcasing the GLIDE IFE embedded system, the next generation of digEplayer, Engage mobile cabin crew and passenger experience solution, as well as in seat power and the latest content services. Our focus is on increasing traveler satisfaction while creating easily executed customized solutions and generating ancillary revenue for clients. We are enabling airlines to create extraordinary travel experiences.
Contact: Ben Fuller
Email: Ben.Fuller@digecor.com
Phone: +1-801-691-7225

Booth #: 6C10
IFPL will be showcasing their latest designs at AIX 2014 and will be demonstrating how you can BREAK FREE, CHARGE, PAY UP and GO!

IFPL is an established design and manufacturing company well known for its industry standard IFEC products. Their success is built on meeting passenger needs for multi-media connectivity and reliable access to the in-flight entertainment.

BREAK FREE! IFPL’s Breakaway Jack solves the problem of broken headphone plugs. Leading on from the Single Pin Jack, the Breakaway Triple Jack (1272) is an exciting new concept for use with powered noise cancelling headsets. The use of the 1272 Triple Jack requires no physical modification to the seatback.

CHARGE! IFPL have listened to their customers and are pleased to present a Stand-Alone USB outlet that will provide 2A output.

PAY-UP! IFPL’s Contactless Retail System uses NFC technology to allow passengers to pay using their contactless card. This payment system has shown an increase of up to 15% of sales in the vending market.

GO! IFPL’s Self-Testing jack enables quick and easy visual system audio check, verified with just a glance.
Contact: Neil Thomas | Business Development Manager
Email: neil.thomas@ifpl.com
Mobile: +44 (0) 778 698 7454
Contact: Mark Reed | Business Development Engineer
Email: mark.reed@ifpl.com

Booth #: 6E31
Inmarsat will talk about the developments in its global satellite services, in particular with GX Aviation developments.
Contact: Paula Ferrai
Email: Paula.Ferrai@inmarsat.com
Mobile: +41 79 874 06 08

Booth #: B6C40
KID-Systeme will be exhibiting at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, from 8-10 April 2014, to demonstrate its two ground-breaking cabin systems: SKYpower, the internationally trusted seatpower system, and SKYfi, a revolutionary modular onboard connectivity platform. With a new design and an innovative product development, KID is looking forward to welcoming their customers on their booth in hall B6.
Contanct: Maren Müente
Email: maren.muente@kid-systeme.de
Mobile: +49 171 5660630

Lufthansa Systems
Booth #: Hall B6 6B47
Lufthansa Systems will be showcasing additional new products for its award-winning infotainment platform BoardConnect, presenting the solution as a fully-featured integration platform for the first time. Visitors to the company’s booth will be able to experience the user-friendly, versatile and innovative IFE solution using their own tablets, smartphones and laptops – as they would do on board. The appropriate apps for Android, iOS and Windows 8 are available for downloading from the app stores.

New features like chat, an online shop and a moving map with points of interest (POI) on different topics will add even more variety to the passenger’s in-flight experience. Passengers can find out about events taking place at their destination, obtain a restaurant recommendation, and even make a reservation online (via satellite, for instance). The BoardConnect platform’s content caching service maintains popular sites on the server, which not only speeds up access to these pages but also saves the airline expensive satellite bandwidth.

The new, easy-to-use, fast and automated Cabin Data Loader takes care of monthly content updates to the on-board servers and the latest LTE technology ensures speedy daily updates of dynamic content such as news and newspapers at speeds of up to 100 Mbps.
Other new hardware components to be shown by Lufthansa Systems will include the on-board Wireless Access Point developed by Lufthansa Technik, which supports 802.11 ac (the fastest current Wi-Fi standard) as well as delivering high-definition video throughout the cabin.
Contact: Sandra Hammer
Email: publicrelations@lhsystems.com

Booth #: 6E40
LUMEXIS FTTS IFE Systems – Best By Every Measure – Lightest Weight | Greatest Capacity | Highest Reliability. We invite you to visit Stand 6E40 during the 2014 AIX and allow us to demonstrate why FTTS has become the benchmark for the entire IFE industry. Please do not hesitate to contact me to make an appointment or to request further information. Looking forward to seeing you in Hamburg.
Contact: Jon Norris (VP Sales)
Email: jnorris@lumexis.com
Mobile: +1 949 436 1434

Booth #:6D38
OnAir will be discussing its latest deals with airlines, as well as looking to the future of inflight connectivity, as it begins to include cabin crew, cockpit and airline operational applications.
Contact: Aurélie Branchereau-Giles
Email: aurelie.branchereau@onair.aero
Mobile: +44 78 676 15 46

Panasonic Avionics Corporation
Booth #: 6C36
At Aircraft Interiors in Hamburg, Panasonic will be showcasing the breadth of its IFE offering on its stand, demonstrating embedded and wireless IFE systems, and its award-winning Global Communications Services inflight connectivity offering.
Panasonic will be making a number of announcements at Aircraft Interiors, with several relating to the breadth and depth of its uniquely global satellite network.
Contact: Brian Bardwell
Email: Brian.Bardwell@panasonic.aero
Mobile: +1 949 573 6833

Stellar Group
Hall B6.1
With 40 years of experience as a Content Service Provider (CSP) Stellar’s focus is to work with Airilnes to understand the myriad of options in IFE, especially in regards to Tablets, streaming and connectivity. Afterall, Stellar Group was the first CSP to secure content onto iPads, as well as, the first CSP to secure content via wireless streaming.
Contact: Joel Joslin
Email: joel.joslin@stellargroup.com
Mobile: +61 414 944 302

Telefonix, Inc.
Booth #: 6C43
During AIX 2014 Telefonix will showcase products in 3 primary categories: 1)Passenger experience products, such as Passenger Control Units, Entertainment and Connectivity Hardware, which includes media loading devices, aircraft servers, etc. 2) Their CWAP design 3) And finally, in conjunction with their partner company Product Development Technologies (PDT), custom product design services.
Contact: Allison Burke
Email: aburke@telefonixinc.com

VT Miltope
Booth #: 6.1B17
Miltope’s family of network products offer the required functionality necessary to create custom airborne networks similar to how office networks are created. Our products optimize the combination of interfaces and computing resources to meet operational, spatial, and functional requirements of simple to complex airborne systems at minimum cost. Products include servers, Ethernet switches, wireless access points, TWLU aircraft to ground wireless link, control panels, and data storage devices. This year we will be featuring our latest wireless products, nMAP2 (wireless access point) and cTWLU (cellular ground link).
Contact: Markus Gilges | Director, Business Development
Email: mgilges@miltope.com
Mobile: +44 7793 758 755

Zodiac Inflight Innovations
Booth #: 6B20
Zodiac Inflight Innovations (formerly The IMS Company and TriaGnoSys) has been providing innovative solutions for the aviation industry for decades. Our business strategy can best be described as RAVE (Reliable, Affordable, and Very Easy). Already famous for our reliable passenger-centric embedded AVOD system (RAVE), we have recently expanded our product line to include connectivity features. Zii offers RAVE Wireless, a streaming IFE solution that lets passengers enjoy entertainment streamed directly to their personal devices. RAVE Cellular allows passengers to use voice, SMS and data services on their phones, which are billed directly to the passenger’s own mobile carrier. With RAVE Broadband, passengers can stay connected in the sky with unprecedented Ka-Band connection speeds. With this full line of IFEC product offerings, Zii uses a modular concept allowing customers to pick and choose which of these features are most important to them and their passengers. RAVE has had much success in the retrofit market and is currently making great progress toward line fit offerability at both Airbus and Boeing.
Contact: Harry Gray
Email: hgray@imsco-us.com
Mobile: +1 714 854 8633

At the last APEX conference the IFExpress reporters shared table at one of the rest locations on the busy floor and quite by accident, struck up a conversation with some folks who do airplane certification for airlines. Naturally, the subject of the forthcoming (now announced) FAA regulation to relax on the use of PEDs on commercial flights was the discussion subject. We were blown away about what we didn’t know about the process and the Hot Topic that follows is the result of that meeting. We bet you will learn something.

Q. What will the new FAA PED use approval action mean for travelers?

A. The majority of Air travelers will soon be able to use their personal electronic devices from gate to gate. The FAA has determined that airlines can safely expand passenger use of PEDs (portable electronic devices) during all phases of a flight, subject to a few constraints and/or additional testing, and have provided airlines with guidance for implementation. Ultimately, it’s up to the airline to use the FAA guidance to allow PED usage from gate to gate. EASA will almost certainly be next in allowing PED use, and we anticipate they will follow the same approach as the FAA.

Q. What will this mean for airlines that seek to provide longer PED services?

A. Under the new FAA guidance, passengers will be able to use their PEDs in all phases of flight. All PEDS must remain in “airplane mode,” which prevents transmissions from those devices. In some flight conditions, airlines may still require passengers to turn off their PEDs, but over time, these situations should prove to be limited and Armstrong Aerospace is already working with operators to eliminate these scenarios.

Q. Why is Armstrong Aerospace a leader in this business?

A. Armstrong turns today’s “reactive” PED compatibility compliance method into a proactive one by addressing aircraft equipment PED compatibility, Illustrated Parts Catalog (IPC) validity and addressing emerging PED technologies. We use multiple analytic and test techniques to substantiate compatibility, with cost-effective certification management. Our services accelerate the time-to-market deployment of wireless passenger systems. We have tested more than 1,500 part numbers, and we leverage our experience to limit the testing duration required to certify an airline’s fleet. Once a plane or fleet is certified, Armstrong has multiple analytic tools to support timely and cost-effective continued airworthiness of PED compatibility… We are involved!

Q. Our readers might not know the airplane certification processes involved; can you roughly outline the procedure?

A. Once the operator determines the aircraft that require testing, we conduct a detailed review of the aircraft’s equipment and notify the FAA of the impending testing. Together with the operator, a test plan is formulated to achieve the most cost-effective and timely evaluation of the fleet. The Armstrong test team then conducts testing onboard the various aircraft under FAA witnesses. Once completed, the operator integrates an FAA-approved modification to their maintenance program.

Q. Are some aircraft certified today? Are the regulations airline or model specific?

A. Some Boeing 787 aircraft are PED tolerant off the line from Boeing manufacturing facilities. This means they are eligible for gate-to-gate certification as long as the operator has maintained the aircraft as directed by Boeing. Additionally, Delta has their aircraft certified without restrictions and JetBlue, American Airlines and United Airlines have their aircraft certified with a few minor restrictions.

Q. What steps would an airline need to go through to get an older aircraft model PED certified?

A. The new guidance states that a combination of analyses and testing can be used to establish gate- to-gate PED certification. Older aircraft may need full wireless testing to accomplish this capability, but these aircraft will most likely be few in number. Either way, this sort of testing is one of our core capabilities, and it is possible for us to perform this testing.

Q. If one airline has an aircraft model number certified, does this carry over to all of the same model aircraft no matter who the operator is or does each airline need to certify their own aircraft?

A. The gate-to-gate PED certification is operator-specific, not aircraft type specific. Each approval is managed directly with airline and FAA oversight. Airlines may also take credit for mutual testing accomplished under FAA certified retrofit projects.

Q. How does an airline quickly deploy a wireless/pico cell system on thousands of aircraft?

A. There are three pacing items that limit the deployment of wireless technologies on large numbers of aircraft. They are the wireless certification strategy, designing and certifying for multiple installation configurations, and the pace of installation. It is critical to take a holistic approach towards solving the first two items. Doing so minimizes the impact on regulatory authorities that frequently have the long lead-time actions. Typical installation schedules for these products may take multiple years in installing a product across a fleet. To combat this, the design must be developed with installation in mind. A design manufactured with rapid installation in mind, installed by a specially trained rapid installation team, minimizes revenue loss to operators. A planned multi-year roll-out can be reduced to several months under this approach. Armstrong AeroMod can install most types of Wi-Fi and connectivity systems within 24 hours.

Q. How do will you help the industry accomplish the latest FAA guidance?

A. Armstrong is rolling out a new TPED certification management product, called the PED Management Program; with a goal to provide airlines with a single certification product that addresses passenger TPED use for any installed wireless or pico cell system through all phases of flight.

Q. Why is Armstrong Aerospace the leader in this field?

A. There is more than one answer to this one:

  • Our company has a strong understanding of the market and industry impact of this new guidance
  • We specialize in concept-to-completion problem solving, with an emphasis on accelerating the time-to-market for all technologies
  • Our unique blend of technical and business expertise with a problem solving approach that considers cost, schedule, compliance and technical requirements provides a holistic solution for customers and operators
  • This may sound like a sales pitch but we take pride in creative/innovative problem solving and thinking outside the box, does not shy away from industry, regulatory or compliance challenges
  • Our expertise spans across analysis, design, testing, certification, production, and installation domains. By being able to operate in these spaces and perform the subtasks contained within them, we minimize program risks (schedule, cost, certification, technical risks)
  •  Armstrong designs with the installation in mind. Rapid installations are the name of the game – we major in it. What good is an installation design that requires a plane to be grounded for 10 days?

If you need an answer to your certification questions send a note to Kevin Weppner – “This is a great time to be involved in RF certification in the airline industry.  Our extensive background in testing and certification perfectly prepared us for the FAA’s new position on PED use.  We are already certifying fleets for gate-to-gate use, including front door and back door testing.  Call us today at 630-285-0200, or email us at info@armstrongaerospace.com and we will let you know how soon we can get your fleet certified – time is of the essence, and we have our teams working NOW to get you this important capability!”