Rockwell Collins to Build Smart-Plane Service on Arinc Buy

Rockwell Collins Inc., the maker of aircraft electronics, plans to build an information management services unit centered on recently acquired Arinc Inc., as the company seeks to lead digital communications that could transform aviation over the next 15 years.

Jeff Standerski, a 25-year Rockwell veteran, will head the new technology division that melds Arinc with existing products designed to help airlines and business jet owners manage every aspect of aircraft flight. The unit will report directly to Chief Executive Officer Kelly Ortberg along with the existing Commercial Systems and Government Systems businesses, the company said today in an e-mailed statement.

The $1.4 billion acquisition, announced in August just 11 days into Ortberg’s tenure as CEO, “is very important to me,” he said in a phone interview. “We want to lead the new world as we bring this forward. We’ve been investing for over a decade in enabling aircraft with the capability to move information on and off the aircraft.”

Arinc, purchased from Carlyle Group LP, is the largest acquisition in Rockwell Collins’ history and bolsters its product lineup as older jets increasingly are replaced by “smart” aircraft run by powerful computers, such as Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner and Airbus SAS’s A380 and A350 jets.

Computerized Flying

Ortberg’s company provides the computer architecture for the new-generation aircraft. He sees the potential for air-to-ground links transforming flight operation with new applications and services, much like software applications have turned mobile phones into hand-held computers or game consoles.

“Think of it as providing a network in the sky,” Ortberg said. “These airplanes are now flying file servers.”

Arinc’s tools are sold by subscription and range from in-flight e-mail service to its Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, which provides real-time weather and flight data to pilots.

Before its sale to Carlyle, Arinc had been owned by airlines since its founding in 1929 to handle air-to-ground communications. The Annapolis, Maryland-based company, once known as Aeronautical Radio Inc., helps more than 14,000 commercial aircraft make more than 100,000 takeoffs and landings daily, according to its website.

Standerski, who has been appointed senior vice president of the new Information Management Services unit, was most recently vice president and general manager, Business and Regional Systems.

Rockwell Collins rose 0.2 percent to $75.78 today at the close in New York. Shares of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based aerospace company have risen 27 percent over the past year.

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