These are good times for civil aviation, but not so promising for defense. Acquisitions—many of them small-scale—are often aimed at strengthening an ancillary line of business. General Electric's purchase of Austin Digital Inc. (ADI), a Texas-based specialist in flight operations data analysis—for an undisclosed sum—is a case in point. Founded in 1989, ADI did its first aviation flight analysis work in 1993. Within two years it was working exclusively on flight data, says CEO Thom ...

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