In a deal that dramatically reshapes the aircraft maintenance information technology (IT) environment, the enterprise resource planning (ERP) provider IFS will acquire Mxi Technologies, which makes Maintenix software for defense and commercial airlines, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) shops and aviation manufacturers.

About one-tenth of IFS’ size, with more than 265 employees, Mxi supports Southwest Airlines; Air France-KLM; Qantas; China Airlines; Boeing; BAE Systems; Saab; Pratt & Whitney; and several air forces.

With the acquisition, IFS says it will become the leading provider of maintenance software for defense and commercial aviation, MROs and original equipment manufacturers (OEM). Mxi will strengthen IFS’ position in North America, a prime growth target.

Senior Vice President Fredrik vom Hofe says IFS already supports both defense and civil aviation but, “In areas where we have weaknesses, Mxi is very strong.” These special Mxi strengths include airframe maintenance and fleet management. IFS will now be able to offer customers either an end-to-end ERP and maintenance solution or best-of-breed maintenance software. It will ensure that the combined firms have a global presence.

“We will be a global player, independent from OEMs or airlines,” vom Hofe stresses. “We will have unique breadth in sub-verticals, including commercial and military aviation, third-party MROs and aerospace manufacturing.”

Scott Helmer, Mxi’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer, says customers are looking for end-to-end solutions or for best-of-breed software “augmented by strategic point solutions,” of which IFS has an impressive array. The bulk of Mxi’s 265 employees are located in Ottawa, but it also has offices in Dallas and the UK, plus small sales offices elsewhere.

Helmer notes that Maintenix has deep functionalities in engineering planning, line maintenance and day-of-operations tasks. The 20-year-old firm supports 20% of the world’s commercial and defense aircraft. Maintenix was first with a paperless solution for line technicians; first with a thin-client application; and first with a mobile app for maintenance execution. Mxi has been pursuing an “agile development” approach to new capabilities for the past 2.5 years.

Mxi was not looking for buyers, but was approached by some. It saw a “complementary fit” with IFS, Helmer says. Moreover, the combined companies can invest and grow the aircraft-maintenance business faster than Mxi could on its own. Although Mxi’s CEO, who came on board in October, will leave the company, the rest of the management team will stay.