Esterline CMC Electronics is stepping up its efforts to bring in fresh cockpit retrofit business after recently establishing a dedicated cockpit integration business unit.

The Canadian company's wares can meanwhile be seen in a variety of flightdecks at the show. It supplies and integrates the cockpit avionics for the Hawker Beechcraft AT-6 attack aircraft, the prototype of which is making its Farnborough debut this year, as well as supplying the flight management system for the Sukhoi Superjet under contract to Thales.

"Our military trainer cockpit that we have in production for the T-6B for the US Navy has been modified and is part of the attack version of that aircraft and is on display with Hawker Beechcraft," says Patrick Champagne, vice-president for CMC's new cockpit integration unit.

The AT-6 was "designed and put together over the last 10 months", says CMC.

The company is mainly active in the military forward-fit and retrofit, and civil cockpit retrofit markets.

Compared with Farnborough 2008, Champagne says: "We certainly have much more capability and demonstrated experience and - with our new cockpit business unit - an increased focus on that market.

"Over the last few years, we have increased our marketing efforts, engineering capability and network of partners and suppliers in order to provide more complete and capable solutions for that market," he adds.

"We also provide the ability to return the aircraft to service faster than anybody has been doing for those types of retrofits."

CMC comes to the show in buoyant mood, despite the industry downturn, with the retrofit market benefitting from decisions by operators to delay purchases of new aircraft.

"We've actually arrived at Farnborough quite pumped," says Jean-Michel Comtois, vice-president for marketing and sales and government and public affairs at CMC Electronics.

"Our business is good, and it's increasing. We have a new president. We've reorganised, and we have terrific opportunities that we're pursuing both on the commercial and military sides.

"We've always had a 50:50 split between military customers and commercial customers and the niches where we compete were not specifically affected," says Comtois.

"Decisions to delay the purchase of new aircraft were taken, but the retrofit of existing platforms was actually on the up and up, and that's the market we play in," says Comtois.

"We also have always had a very broad and varied customer base. Our largest single customer is Sikorsky and it only represents 9% of our sales."

Europe currently accounts for about 30% of CMC Electronics' sales. Comtois says the the Farnborough and Paris air shows continue to provide value for CMC because "we know that all of our key customers - and prospective customers - will be here.

"For instance, we are looking at India for a number of opportunities. The folks we have been discussing and dealing with are all here. It's an opportunity for us to do so much in a short time, and there's no way we could pass up on this," he says.

Source: Flight Daily News