Honeywell targets its low-cost KMD 250 at business aviation

 - March 30, 2007, 7:51 AM

Sometimes the simplest ideas turn out to be the best ones. After initially targeting the Bendix/King KMD 250 multifunction display to owners of piston singles, Honeywell now believes the unit will turn out to be a popular addition in the cockpits of many turboprops and business jets. Operators have been installing the MFD as a backup to higher-end equipment, according to Honeywell, with the attraction being the unit’s small size and even smaller price tag.

At $3,990 the KMD 250 is just about the lowest-priced multifunction display on the market. Considering that it includes a color LCD, internal moving map and VFR GPS receiver and can interface with traffic, datalink weather and IFR GPS sensors, the unit packs a big punch in a small package, and is perfect, said Honeywell, for older turboprops and business jets where cost and space are premiums.

During a demonstration of the KMD 250 last month in a Beech Baron, Dan Barks, director of marketing for business, regional and general aviation avionics, explained that the MFD includes many of the functions of the higher-priced KMD 550 and 850 displays. But because it is a simpler design that does not include all the extra electronics used for interfacing with weather radar or EGPWS, the KMD 250 is a lower-cost display that can be used for showing datalink weather graphics through the flight information service (FIS) network, as well as information fed by TCAS, Stormscope and most IFR GPS receivers, including the Garmin GNS 430 and 530.
When used with the Bendix/King KLN 94 IFR GPS receiver, the KMD 250 is capable of showing curved routes.

“It is a versatile little display that can be used for showing all kinds of information,” said Barks. “It’s hard to find this kind of capability at this price.”

The KMD 250 is smaller than the 550 and 850, but compared with the five-inch screen of the 550, the KMD 250’s 3.8-inch display does not seem too small. During the demonstration the display image of the 250 was bright and crisp and readable in direct sunlight.

The software and remaining capabilities on the KMD 250 are nearly identical to those on the KMD 550, so pilots who are familiar with one will have an easy time transitioning to the other. A number of soft keys on the right side of the unit control different functions, which are displayed on the screen by large tags, a nice feature of the unit. There are hard keys on the left for map, flight plan, weather and traffic pages, as well as range buttons, a nearest waypoint button and a small knob/joystick for maneuvering through menu fields and moving an on-screen cursor.

The map on the KMD 250 uses colors that are similar to those presented on sectional charts. A “relative terrain” map shows hills and mountains in shades of red, yellow and green, similar to EGPWS. The KMD 250’s major shortcoming, however, is that it cannot interface with terrain awareness and warning systems (TAWS), not even Honeywell’s own EGPWS products. This will no doubt disappoint some business aircraft operators who are still searching for low-cost ways of satisfying the upcoming mandate for TAWS in turbine-powered airplanes.

Where the KMD 250 shines is in displaying datalink weather through the FIS network, which provides complete coverage of the continental U.S. at 5,000 feet and much lower near FIS ground stations. For $49 per month, FIS includes Nexrad radar images for stations across the U.S.; TAFs; graphical metars; airmets; sigmets; areas of turbulence and icing; surface winds; and other data. Basic text products are free from the FAA, but users must still register with Honeywell and have a current data card.

The KMD 250 is part of the integrated hazard awareness system (IHAS 2000) from Honeywell that combines a number of safety-of-flight functions in a single package. Adding a datalink weather receiver to the KMD 250 raises the price to $6,904. To get the complete functionality of IHAS 2000, including a KT 73 mode-S transponder with traffic information service (TIS) and KDR 510 VDL Mode 2 datalink weather receiver, the price for the unit is $11,757.

Database and software updates are made through a small data card that slides into the front of the KMD 250, allowing the unit to be upgraded without having to remove it from the aircraft. Honeywell said it has shipped about 90 KMD 250s since the unit was certified last November.