Bendix/King Plots Course for Revival

 - April 18, 2012, 4:25 AM

Honeywell is moving aggressively to revitalize its Part 23 aircraft avionics division, Bendix/King, which was the dominant player until the ascension of Garmin, Avidyne and the like. In recent months the company has hired a new CEO, former Piper Aircraft president Kevin Gould, who is in the process of building a new management team and hiring more engineers as the company moves into the glass-panel age. Gould’s strategy is to build on Bendix/King’s brand legacy while at the same time incorporating the advanced features of advanced Honeywell avionics, such as the Apex system, at competitive prices.

Gould knows he has a difficult road ahead. “Is there a space for us [in the market]? Does the brand still have credibility or has it been damaged? Customers are telling us that if we come out with competitive products, they will buy from us,” he said.

Gould points to the new touchscreen KSN 770 GPS/comm/MFD the company developed in cooperation with Aspen Avionics as an example of new, relevant technology for the light side of a Part 23 retrofit market that he estimates at $500 million in total size. Gould’s new vice president of marketing, Roger Jollis, who comes to the company from the enterprise computing section of Hewlett-Packard, points out that the FMS in the 770 was derived from the Apex system and that there remain many opportunities ahead for that type of technology transition.

In addition, Gould thinks the market is still fairly strong for the company’s legacy products, especially among aircraft owners who are looking to replace a select component. “We were number one [in market share] well into the 1990s and we’re still number two,” Gould said. “We are still doing a brisk business on products that were developed five, 10, even 20 years ago, but now it is time to refresh those things. We want to recast this business.”

Gould said he has the personal assurances of Honeywell top management to adequately support that mission and that new regulations on the horizon, including those associated with ADS-B, make this a good time to revitalize the company. As a Honeywell company, Bendix/King will have access to “cost-effective manufacturing” and a global outsourcing network that will help the company, historically known as a provider of robust but expensive products, remain cost competitive. “Competition is healthy and people want to see a higher level of competition,” he said.

Bendix/King has developed a new product roadmap, but Gould declined to provide specifics. However, he did hint that new product announcements could come later this year and would be aimed primarily at the retrofit market. “We’re moving as fast as we can.”

Meanwhile, Gould is busy hiring new staff. “I’ve hired two vice presidents in the last four months and I still need a v-p of engineering and another one for customer support. We will hire another 100 people under them on our way to being a 150- to 200-person organization.” o