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EMS Technologies lands another connectivity catch

13th December 2008 - 13:45 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


EMS Technologies has made another acquisition as it continues its drive to become a full-spectrum supplier of air-to-ground connectivity systems and services.

The Atlanta-based satcoms equipment manufacturer is buying New Jersey company Formation, provider of a range of rugged servers and cabin wireless access points to support passenger communications via terrestrial and satellite networks.

Earlier this year EMS Technologies acquired Iridium satcoms service provider Sky Connect, and entered into a partnership with Starling of Israel to produce Ku-band antennas for Panasonic’s emerging eXconnect broadband service for airline passengers.

EMS is paying an initial $40 million for Formation, with the possibility of up to a further $15 million in performance-based payments over the next few years. Formation numbers among its customers Aircell, for which it is producing the airborne central processor unit (CPU) and cabin wireless access point (CWAP) for the Gogo air-to-ground broadband system now being deployed by Virgin America and other North American carriers. Other customers include Airbus – Formation is an approved direct supplier – plus Rockwell Collins and Panasonic.

“This acquisition reflects our aim to become a more comprehensive provider of aero connectivity solutions for airlines, business aviation and the airlines,” says EMS chief executive Paul Domorski. “Formation will help us to deliver systems to work with a variety of satellite and other platforms.”

Formation will ultimately be managed within the EMS Technologies structure by chief operating officer Neil Mackay, who came to Atlanta from subsidiary EMS Satcom. A successful spell in charge there saw the Ottawa-based company emerge as one of the leading suppliers of Inmarsat L-band avionics and antennas to the government, military and business/VIP markets, and a provider of core technology for air transport satcoms leaders Honeywell and Rockwell Collins.  

“We can now adapt products and technologies from one aeronautical connectivity application to another, getting to market faster and more profitably than new entrants,” he says. “Advantages of the new relationship will include common supplier relationships and complementary customer bases in the avionics, defence and transportation markets.”

Formation will continue to operate from its existing Moorestown, New Jersey, premises under the leadership of chief executive Nim Evatt, who will report to Mackay. “Being part of EMS will allow us to more rapidly pursue new applications, including integration of inflight information and entertainment systems,” says Evatt.

With this move EMS Technologies continues its entry into an exclusive club of versatile connectivity suppliers, the other member being ViaSat. Earlier this year the California-based company, hitherto best known in aviation for the hardware it supplies for the ARINC SKYLink/Rockwell Collins eXchange Ku-band offering, declared a readiness to operate in its own right as a service provider in the corporate and airline markets.

The Shephard News Team


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