Singapore arm AeroNet eyes options ranging from joint venture with external partner to outright sale

Lido Lufthansa Aeronautical Services is looking to recruit an outside partner to help accelerate development of its electronic flight-bag (EFB), and take advantage of an expected boom in airline demand.

Several companies are in talks with the German flight planning and air navigation data provider and a decision is due in the next few weeks, say industry sources. Lido parent Lufthansa Systems will only say it is "reviewing partnership opportunities".

Lido's Singapore-based unit AeroNet is developing the EFB and plans to speed up work on the project due to increased airline interest. The need to install cabin video surveillance systems after the 11 September terrorist attacks in the USA has prompted several carriers to look at buying dual-use hardware and cockpit displays that could also host the EFB.

However, AeroNet needs additional capital to step up work on the EFB and Lufthansa is considering whether the funding requirement could be better met by bringing in an outside partner.

One option could see Lido split to accommodate a joint-venture partner or buyer for AeroNet, say industry sources. Honeywell and Rockwell Collins are among the potential partners with whom discussions have been held, they add.

Lido Aeronet aims to develop a suite of products for the emerging "e-flight" or "paperless cockpit" market. As well as funding, it is looking for a partner to help expand its aeronautical database, and possibly supply hardware so it can offer fully integrated products.

The company recently secured Qantas as launch customer for its cockpit moving-map solution, which will run on Spirent Systems displays installed in the airline's soon-to-be-delivered Airbus A330s. The EFB will provide pilots with electronic access to digitally stored maps, approach plates, performance charts and flight manuals.

Aeronet was established in June 2000 as a Lido subsidiary with responsibility for developing mobile and internet-based flight support solutions. Frankfurt-based Lido provides the Operation Center interactive flight planning service, plus navigation data products.

Source: Flight International