Rockwell Collins Inc. (NYSE: COL) is making its biggest-ever acquisition in a bet that airplanes will get smarter, as everything from lie-flat seats to toilet valves send live data to inflight crews and maintenance workers.

The $6.4 billion purchase of B/E Aerospace Inc. (Nasdaq: BEAV) eclipses the 83-year-old avionics maker’s takeover of Arinc Inc. in 2013. That deal, just 11 days after Kelly Ortberg was named chief executive officer, provided new ways to pipe data into planes. With B/E Aerospace, Ortberg gains the largest equipment supplier for aircraft cabins and the chance to provide reams of new information to airline operators.

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