NBAA Convention News

Extant Turns Product Obsolescence into a Core Business

 - October 23, 2013, 3:20 PM

Last month’s agreement for Extant Components to provide product support for the Universal Avionics Systems Aero-M and Aero-I satellite communications products is the latest example of the company’s efforts to help OEMs to more efficiently handle manufacturing and repairs for legacy or non-core electronics and avionics products. The support provided under the new licensing agreement will be handled by Extant’s Symetrics Industries subsidiary and will include unit repair and exchange services.

Universal Avionics (Booth No. N6108) has sold approximately 800 of its Aero-M and Aero-I satcom products. Symetrics employs 150 technical and support personnel and has set up a dedicated customer service team to work with Aero-M and Aero-I operators.

Extant CEO Jim Gerwien explained to AIN that the Melbourne, Fla.-based group’s goal is to manage the obsolescence issues that frequently accompany older products and to sustain them until the manufacturer’s customers transition to newer equipment. “In a perfect world they [the manufacturers] would be able to just drop products for alternate models but often they don’t have a clear alternative and the issue they have is how do they tell customers that they are not going to support the old products. We provide a security blanket,” he said. “In the case of the Aero-M and Aero-I products, we become Universal in terms of support. This is our core business so we tend to be more responsive, and it allows OEMs to work on their current products.”

Extant is also active in manufacturing obsolete components and parts. This has become critical to supporting some products because otherwise, in some cases, the necessary spares would simply not be available.

A fundamental problem for manufacturers in aviation is that they work to a long-cycle in which products can take a long time to get into production and then need to be supported for up to 50 years. But in the meantime, some of the electronic components for these products can become obsolete in just two or three years because the technology quickly moves on and becomes non-core to the suppliers.

With FAA repair station status and approval from EASA, Extant is able to support a wide variety of aircraft. According to Gerwien, business and general aviation is a priority area for the company because this sector does not tend to have the embedded support structure that is more common in the air transport sector, so operators need more help.

On September 30, Extant reached agreement to acquire the Carter Communications product line from the Esterline Technologies group’s Mason Electric Company. Symetrics will be taking over all manufacturing and product support for the Carter range of radio interfaces, switch and cable assemblies, adapters, microphones and pre-amps.