Racal Avionics is in advanced talks with British Airways over the acquisition of the airline's wholly owned flight-documentation subsidiary Aerad.

Racal provides worldwide navigation data for flight-management systems and sees Aerad's business as complementary.

The UK avionics company declines to confirm that the talks are taking place, but a source familiar with the process says that a decision is due in March. Options other than a straightforward purchase of the business are also understood to be under discussion.

Aerad's products are a global flight-documentation service, including charts; a European executive flight-guide for general/ business-aviation users; and ad hoc trip products on demand. British Airways is the company's major customer, but Aerad has other third-party airline business.

Meanwhile, the head of the world's second-largest documentation and flight-planning concern - SAS Flight Support - is urging his European competitors to join forces to challenge Jeppesen's market domination.

Jan Petterson, managing director of the SAS unit, wants to see the creation of what he terms "European Flight Support", through either joint ventures or mergers.

"We would like to make sure that there is a second supplier in the market in the future. We don't want to do that by stealing customers from Aerad or the others. I would like to see, and I think it is possible, a European Flight Support formed out of several of the European airlines," says Petterson. Candidate partners include Aerad, to which Petterson has already talked; the Iberia/Air France Atlas unit; Swissair, which works with SAS through KSSU; and KLM, which supplies its own needs.

SAS Flight Support manager of marketing and sales Björn Olsson adds: "We have many airlines negotiating with us. Sometimes it is because of price, but sometimes it is because they think it would be a closer relationship, rather than dealing with a big company like Jeppesen."

Source: Flight International