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Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) last week announced that it signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) to provide communications systems for COMAC’s C919.

While final terms are still being negotiated, the LoI allows the parties to immediately begin working on a custom communications solution that will allow passengers use personal mobile devices for phone services and Internet access on board the C919.  Panasonic has teamed with China Electronics Technology Avionics Co. Ltd. (CETCA), which is based in Chengdu.

This is great news for Panasonic and COMAC’s C919.  But one has to wonder – what about the other C919 deals already announced?  It would seem COMAC has a deal with everyone in the IFEC space. In September Rockwell announced it had a deal.  In November it was Thales’ turn to announce a deal.

Each of these LoIs matches a western IFEC vendor with a Chinese firm.  Panasonic and CETCA. Rockwell Collins and Shanghai Aero Measurement-Controlling Research Institute (SAMRI). Thales and CETCA.

How should one read this?

It would seem that COMAC might want to offer any of these systems to customers to ensure airlines the widest choice.  But it should be noted that such an offering is not typical.  Moreover these deals are all letters of intent.

Is COMAC is following a time-tested method? Learning from these firms to acquire state of art technology.   This method has worked remarkably well for China’s aviation sector.

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