Bendix/King aims at Garmin lead

 - August 1, 2007, 6:47 AM

After years of losing market share to cross-town rival Garmin, Honeywell’s Bendix/King division is fighting back with two all-new products for general aviation.

The Bendix/King KSN 770, introduced at last month’s EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., is a panel-mount GPS WAAS navigator with integrated VHF navcom and VGA display that is reminiscent of Garmin’s popular GNS 430 and 530 yet stands on its own. Incorporating design features borrowed from the Honeywell Primus Epic avionics suite, the KSN 770 includes an INAV graphical flight planning interface and a joystick cursor controller. With it, users can click on a waypoint and drag it to a new location to modify a flight plan instead of delving into the flight-planning pages as they would using a traditional GPS receiver.

The introduction of a long-anticipated IFR WAAS navigator from Bendix/King brings to the lower echelons of GA software-based VHF nav and com radios and a high-resolution color display that shares a look and feel with higher-end Honeywell avionics. According to Dan Barks, director of marketing for business, regional and general aviation avionics, the display is what sets the KSN 770 apart. “It is full VGA, measuring 5.7 inches diagonally, which enables us to add 3-D shading and really give it a professional look because of the super resolution,” he said.

The unit is capable of displaying information from a variety of sensors including onboard weather radar, traffic alert system, terrain warning system, XM weather receiver and analog video input for displaying enhanced-vision system or video camera views.  It includes a basic terrain database as standard but can be purchased with an optional integrated class-B enhanced ground proximity warning system, Barks said.

Users of the company’s KLN and KMD series avionics should feel right at home in front of the KSN 770. The main display is sectioned into a map page with smaller thumbnail areas on the left showing radio frequencies, safety sensor views and flight-related information including groundspeed, desired track and distance to the next waypoint. A number of soft keys on the bezel allow the user to call up various planning and information pages or the cursor controller can be used to highlight and modify various functions, similar to the joystick on the KMD units but with the ability to depress the controller to select items on the screen.

The unit measures 5.25 inches high, 6.25 inches wide and 9 inches deep and includes a USB port on the front for uploading nav databases using a laptop computer or memory stick. The exact weight of the unit has yet to be determined, Barks said, as Bendix/King engineers continue to tweak the design. The company is exploring a line of products based on the KSN 770 that would be perhaps larger or smaller, although no further details were available.

Due to start shipping in the  second half of next year, the KSN 770 will be “competitively priced” with Garmin’s GNS 530W, which sells for around $12,000.  

A PFD for the Budget Conscious
The second new product from Bendix/King, the KFD 840 primary flight display, is sized to fit perfectly in the space occupied by the instrument “six pack” in thousands of light GA piston airplanes. Priced “under $20,000,” the 8.4-inch-diagonal flat panel targets the same class of aircraft as Garmin’s $29,772 (retail price) G600 retrofit display, which incorporates an integrated primary and multifunction display that take up slightly more panel real estate. Like the KSN 770, Bendix/King’s retrofit display is scheduled for availability in next year’s second half.

The KFD 840 consists of a high-resolution primary flight display with an integrated air-data attitude and heading reference system (ADAHRS). The unit measures roughly eight inches wide and seven inches tall. The reason for the odd size, explained Barks, was to match the typical hole created when technicians remove the primary electromechanical instruments in the typical light GA airplane. “It’s really the height where you run into trouble,” he said. “The common display size is 10.4 inches diagonal, but those displays are difficult to retrofit into a lot of airplanes, so we went back and created a size that’s almost the same as the instrument six pack.”

Keeping the price at a point that would be affordable to a large cross section of buyers was a main goal for developers of the KFD 840. That meant limiting the unit’s functionality to basic flight information, Barks said. “Whereas the KSN 770 is big on performance and has lots of bells and whistles, this product is more straightforward in that it has a slaved HSI, wide horizon, common look and feel with the other Honeywell avionics systems, but that’s all,” Barks said. “It’s simple to use and provides good basic information including altitude, airspeed and heading in a traditional format.” The only “extras” included with the KFD 840, Barks said, are electronic checklists and a weight-and-balance calculation page.

The installation in the typical airplane will be reasonably straightforward, Barks promised. The only piece of equipment that needs to be installed remotely, he said, is the magnetometer, which must be fitted away from any interference sources, typically in a wingtip. The unit includes an autopilot interface and can receive navigation inputs from a variety of panel-mount radios, with either analog or Arinc 429 outputs. The basic primary instruments (altimeter, airspeed indicator and attitude indicator) normally will be retained during the installation process, Barks said, and refitted in the panel next to the KFD display as backups.

Flight testing of both products is scheduled to start in the fall. Installation approvals will be obtained under separate approved model list STCs covering hundreds of piston airplane types.