Textron (NYSE: TXT ) , the company behind Cessna airplanes and Bell helicopters, is flying deeper into the aircraft pilot training market.
On Friday, Textron announced that is has agreed to buy two flight simulation and aircraft training product companies -- Mechtronix of Montreal, Quebec, and OPINICUS Corporation, located in Lutz, Fla. Textron plans to integrate both companies into its existing training and simulation offerings, and to upgrade the division into a new $100 million-a-year business to be called "Textron Simulation & Training Systems."
Mechtronix focuses on the civilian airline market and makes FFSX and FFTX high-fidelity flight simulators and FFT and Ascent flight trainers, and also offers classroom training solutions. OPINICUS, which is known for its ODYSSEY high-fidelity simulators, has more of a military focus and counts Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, GE Aerospace -- and also the FAA and several branches of the U.S. military -- among its clients.
The U.S., and other countries as well, are facing a looming pilot shortage due to impending retirements among the current batch of aging pilots. In October, USA TODAY reported on a University of North Dakota study that projected a shortfall of as many as 35,000 pilots needed for U.S. air fleets over the next 20 years. Textron's acquisitions look like a move to get ahead of the curve on -- and profit from -- this problem.
Financial terms of the acquisitions were not disclosed, but Textron did say that it expects to close both transactions by the end of this year.