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Astronics wins $12 million order from Air Canada for power systems

Astronics Corp. has won a $12 million contract from Air Canada to install a power system in about 100 of its passenger jets that will let passengers plug their laptops and other electronic devices into their seats.

The contract, which could be worth an extra $2 million if Air Canada decides to make additional purchases, is the biggest order that Astronics has received for the more powerful version of its in-seat power system that it introduced last year, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The in-seat power supply system, which is made by the company's Astronics AES subsidiary in Redmond, Wash., allows passengers to run their electronic devices off of the aircraft's power system, rather than rely on batteries.

Peter Gundermann, Astronics' president and chief executive officer, said he thinks airlines will adopt in-seat power systems for planes used on longer flights. "As airlines expand their long-haul businesses, we believe they will want to enhance their customers' flight experience, as Air Canada is doing," he said.

Astronics expects to start working on the project early next year and wrap up the work in about 18 months. Air Canada has the option to buy additional systems that it could install on more than 30 additional planes, Gundermann said.

The in-seat power system, which can provide 150 watts of electricity through each outlet, will be installed on a variety of Air Canada jets, including its Boeing 767 and Airbus A320 planes, as part of a larger upgrade program by the airline.

"That's a nice business for them" that could allow Astronics to tap into a global base of airline customers, said Brad McAdam, the research director for the Bullfinch Funds in suburban Rochester, which owns a small stake in East Aurora company.

e-mail: drobinson@buffnews.com

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