DeCrane Aircraft, a growing US avionics components manufacturer and integrator, has agreed to acquire Columbia, Maryland-based PATS, which manufactures and installs auxiliary fuel tanks and other equipment for corporate and commercial aircraft.

DeCrane, based in El Segundo, California, declines to reveal any acquisition details, saying only that "-the closing of this transaction is subject to the satisfaction of several conditions". An industry source says that the deal was struck after several months of negotiations, prompted by PATS' failed attempt to sell its aircraft long-range fuel tank manufacturing and installation business to Boeing. It claims that the sale is expected to be finalised "in a month or so".

Talks between PATS and Boeing "-died a graceful death" after the aircraft manufacturer suffered serious production problems that led to replacement of Boeing Commercial Airplane Group president Ron Woodard by Alan Mulally.

The sweeping management and organisational changes included the retirement of Larry Clarkson, Boeing's senior vice-president, who recently served as president of Boeing Enterprises, in which PATS would have become a subsidiary.

PATS holds a contract worth around $300 million over 10 years to manufacture and install a company-developed extended-range fuel tank in the Boeing Business Jet, from its Georgetown, Delaware site, where work on the first two aircraft has begun. The aircraft accessory manufacturer also builds long-range tanks for other Boeing commercial aircraft models. In 1997, the long-range fuel tanks alone accounted for 80% of PATS' business. DeCrane is unlikely to close any PATS' factories.

Other products for PATS include airstairs and aircraft oxygen, water, air humidification and ozone removal systems. PATS also provides auxiliary power units (APUs) for aircraft, and is developing a lightweight rotary-engine APU for corporate jets.

Source: Flight International