AAI Corp. took a major step yesterday toward lessening its dependence on military contracts by entering into an agreement to acquire Microflite Simulation International Corp.
Microflite, based in Binghamton, N.Y., is a manufacturer of flight simulators used to train commercial pilots. The purchase price was not disclosed.
Paul J. Michaud, vice president and chief financial officer of AAI, said that Microflite could boost AAI's commercial sales to 40 percent of its business within the next few years. The Cockeysville company now draws about 98 percent of its business from the Defense Department.
"We had decided to pursue this business," Mr. Michaud said of the commercial flight trainer industry. "This is a nice, fat entry into that business." AAI currently makes flight simulators for military planes.
Microflite is a subsidiary of Biocoastal Corp. of Tampa, Fla. Biocoastal, which is owned by corporate takeover artist Paul Bilzerian, has been operating under bankruptcy court protection since late 1989.
"Microflite has been a successful business," Mr. Michaud said, "but unfortunately it has been dragged down by a sick parent."
Microflite formerly operated under the name of Link-Miles Corp. and was a part of the Singer Co., which was acquired by Bilzerian.
Bilzerian has since been convicted of securities fraud.
Mr. Michaud said yesterday that it may take a couple of years, but AAI expects to have Microflite posting sales of $50 million to $60 million a year, its level of business prior to the bankruptcy of its parent.
The company once had about 400 workers but now has only 75. Mr. Michaud said the payroll will grow gradually as orders are obtained.
AAI plans to keep Microflite's production operation in Binghamton.