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Astronics Corp. gets $17 million in work from five airlines

The push by airlines to upgrade their planes so passengers can more easily use electronic devices is bringing $17 million in new work to Astronics Corp., the East Aurora aircraft lighting and electronic systems maker said.

Astronics has won orders from five different airlines for its power supply system that allows passengers to run their laptop computers and other electronic devices by plugging them into outlets in their seats.

Airlines are adding the in-seat power supply features in an effort to offer additional features for passengers who are using a growing number of power-hungry electronic devices, said Mark Peabody, the executive vice president of the company's Astronics AES subsidiary.

Astronics AES, which is based in Redmond, Wash., makes the company's Empower in-seat power supply system.

The biggest order was worth $9 million and came from an unidentified Asian commercial airline that is planning to retrofit its existing planes and also install the power supply system on new wide-body aircraft it is adding to its fleet.

Astronics expects to start delivering the systems during the middle of this year and continue shipments over the following two years.

"An order of this magnitude is a big win," said Peter Gundermann, Astronics' president and chief executive officer. "The airlines throughout Asia continue to invest in upgrading and expanding their fleets. We expect opportunities from this sector to continue over the next few years."

Astronics also has received orders worth a combined $6 million from three U.S. airlines to provide power systems for a total of 190 aircraft. The first contract involves the installation of a power system for passenger laptops in the business and first-class sections of more than 150 Boeing 737 aircraft, with the first shipments coming in the quarter that just ended and the final deliveries scheduled by the end of 2009.

The other two contracts are for systems to power laptops, as well as portable in-flight entertainment devices provided by the airline. One of those contracts calls for 160 units to be delivered by the end of this year, while the other is for 132 units by the end of the third quarter of 2008.

The final contract, from an unidentified Middle Eastern airline, includes orders and options worth $2 million for systems that will be installed in the business and first-class sections of more than 20 Boeing 777 jets between the second quarter of this year and the second quarter of 2010.

e-mail: drobinson@buffnews.com

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