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Safran In-Flight Unit Ups Brea Footprint

Safran Passenger Innovations, a Brea-based subsidiary of French aerospace giant Safran Group, is moving its local headquarters into a bigger area facility, and is also getting a new building constructed for its growing operations in the city.

The company, which builds in-flight entertainment software and hardware for the airline industry, is moving from its current 89,000-square-foot hub at 2929 E. Imperial Highway into a multibuilding office complex across the street, at 3151 E. Imperial Highway.

It will ultimately occupy 209,000 square feet at the new spot, factoring in a new development in the works at the site, sources tell the Business Journal.

The move will nearly double Safran Passenger Innovations’ footprint in Brea, and marks another sign of expansion for OC’s cluster of in-flight entertainment makers (see story, this page).

New Build-to-Suit

The Campus Pointe Brea office complex that Safran will be moving into currently has a pair of two-story office buildings and a parking structure.

Safran will occupy all 115,000 square feet at one of the buildings at 3151 E. Imperial Highway, as well as an additional 29,000 square feet at 3075 E. Imperial Highway, a building it currently leases space in and which is home to another tenant, CMRE Financial Services Inc.

Owner Colyear Properties is constructing a 64,000-square-foot, build-to-suit industrial building on a current surface parking area at 3025 E. Imperial Ave. Construction for that building, which will be used by Safran for testing and storage, will be completed by the end of the year.

A two-story parking structure in the rear of the property will remain.

The expansion is being fueled by “industry demand to deliver more products with the necessary facility space for new technologies,” the company told the Business Journal.

Tenant brokerage firm Savills’ Senior Managing Director Steve Pisarik and Senior Vice President Bruce Schuman represented Safran.

The deal is among the largest office leases in Brea in several years, according to CoStar Group Inc. records; and by total square footage appears to be the largest countywide over the past quarter.

Name Changes, Growth

The new lease marks another sign of local growth for Safran Passenger Innovations, which originated as a two-person company called IMS Co. It operated out of Anaheim until it moved to Brea in 2008.

Aerospace equipment maker Zodiac Aerospace acquired IMS in 2011 and continued to grow the company’s in-flight operations in Brea, expanding from about 30,000 square feet to 81,000 square feet in 2014.

In 2018, Safran acquired the business, then called Zodiac Inflight Innovations, and renamed it Safran Passenger Innovations.

The Safran unit currently has 450 employees in Brea. The new location can accommodate about 600 employees, sources tell the Business Journal.

Employee “headcount will grow primarily in the field of software engineering and will follow our ambitious business expansion,” Safran said.

RAVE Tech

Safran is expected to use the office facilities to support its growing staff and product lines, including RAVE (Reliable Affordable and Very Easy) entertainment products, a line of entertainment products for airline passengers that includes seat back monitors and Bluetooth and video technology.

The newest expansion of the RAVE products was announced in September, when Safran said its in-flight entertainment systems could allow all passengers to connect to the devices via personal Bluetooth headsets, simultaneously. Previously, this was only available to 20 passengers at a time, and required the use of airline-provided headsets.

New clients of this technology include airlines Lufthansa and All Nippon Airways.

Safran’s technology is used on Boeing and Airbus planes.

“Our team vigorously seeks ways to improve the passenger experience in the seat,” Matt Smith, CEO of Safran Passenger Innovations, said in a prior statement.

Safran in OC

Safran already has a sizeable Orange County presence, employing close to 3,000 locally in multiple divisions. One of its larger units is a Huntington Beach division called Safran Cabin. The unit is a manufacturer of cabin interiors and overhead bins for airline makers, among other products.

Competitors to Safran Cabin have included Jim Downey’s EnCore Group, a Surf City-based maker of plane interiors that was a successor to his C&D Aerospace, formed in 1972 and sold in 2005.

EnCore Group was bought by Boeing last year on undisclosed terms.

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