Julian Moxon/Paris

Sextant Avionique expects its fast-growing air-traffic-management (ATM)-systems business to net more than a one-third share of the market and add nearly Fr500 million ($100 million) in sales by the end of the century.

Sextant and its parent, Thomson-CSF, launched a major initiative at the Paris air show in June to enter the communications, navigation, surveillance/ATM (CNS/ ATM) business. It says that it is now "fully established" in the sector.

Several recent successes, notably its selection as supplier of multi-mode receivers for United Airlines' Airbus A319s, have added to optimism that CNS/ ATM is set to become one of the company's core businesses.

Sextant, which is two-thirds owned by Thomson-CSF, and one-third by Aerospatiale, is focusing on its membership of the Thomfans group. Under this arrangement, Thomson-CSF and Thomson Airsys mainly provide ground-based CNS/ATM equipment, while Sextant contributes the airborne system.

Jean-Paul Lepeytre, senior vice-president, says that Sextant aims to have "around 35% of the CNS/ ATM market" within a few years, increasing sales in its commercial-avionics business by "at least 25%" from some Fr1.9 billion in 1995.

Questions still remain, however, about the fate awaiting France's biggest avionics supplier as the purchase of Thomson is pursued by the Lagardère group, owner of Matra. The UK's GEC-Marconi and Smiths Industries are among those watching the privatisation with interest. Atie-up between Sextant and either of the UK companies would create a world-leading avionics company able to rival the US giants.

Guy Coste, marketing manager for commercial-air-transport avionics at Sextant, says that the company aims to be able to provide "every piece of equipment necessary" for the future global CNS/ ATM system, with the intention of rivalling US dominance.

In 1995, the French company demonstrated Category II differential-global-positioning-satellite (DGPS) landing capability on an Airbus A340, claiming a world first in doing so. It is also providing its Topstar 200 global-navigation-satellite system (GNSS) receivers to Thomson for the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System, which will enable Europe-wide introduction of the DGPS.

Sextant has GNSS equipment certificated on Alitalia McDonnell Douglas MD-82s, and has been selected as provider of the router and test suite for the planned aeronautical-telecommunications network. Further business is likely to result from its investment in 8.33kHZ VHF data radios, a key component of CNS/ ATM, it says.

Source: Flight International