Japanese Firm Puts Avionics Unit in Irvine

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. of Japan said Tuesday that it has formed an avionics research company here to develop in-flight passenger communications equipment for the airline industry.

The move strengthens Orange County's reputation as the center of the growing airline passenger entertainment equipment industry. The firm, Matsushita Avionics Development Corp., becomes the fourth major supplier of so-called avionics systems in the area.

"We aim to develop the next-generation advanced systems of in-flight entertainment, cabin-management and related systems," said Brinder Bhatia, the new company's vice president and chief operating officer.

The Matsushita unit employs 30 engineers and marketing personnel and expects to boost employment to 50 people in 1991, he said.

Justin Camerlengo, a Matsushita spokesman, said most of the company's engineers and researchers will be Americans. The company's president is Yukio Sugimoto.

Matsushita, a giant Japanese conglomerate, is relocating its avionics research and development operations from Osaka, Japan, to be closer to its major customers and U.S. aircraft manufacturers, and to tap into the local pool of avionics engineers, Bhatia said.

Other local companies in the industry are Sony-Trans Com Inc. in Irvine, a Sony Corp. subsidiary; Hughes Avicom in Rancho Santa Margarita, a Hughes Aircraft Co. unit, and BE Avionics Inc. in Santa Ana.

Demand for airline entertainment systems has been growing in tandem with rising worldwide orders for commercial aircraft.

Richard Kraft, president and chief operating officer of Matsushita Electric Corp. of America in Secaucus, N.J., said, "The new company will work closely with the U.S. aircraft and airline industry on creating an advanced, computerized audio-video entertainment and passenger-management system for planes of the future."

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