Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bendix/King Update

The Pioneer In Avionics Sets Its Sights On The Future

The name "Bendix/King" conjures up a long legacy in aviation. From the famous Air Race trophies in the 1930s, through their domination of World War II avionics and eventual partnership with King Radios, the company is synonymous with aviation pioneering. In recent decades, the company has morphed into an altogether different entity through acquisition by Allied Signal, then a merger with Honeywell Corporation and the launch of the "Bendix/King by Honeywell" brand in 2007. Still a giant in the modern avionics industry, Bendix/King has made some exciting changes recently that could position the company as a pioneer once again.

Probably the biggest change was the company's recent move to New Mexico. In April 2012, Bendix/King moved its technical operations (including product development and support) to a 40,000-square-foot facility in Albuquerque. The move is part of the initiative to establish Bendix/King as an independent strategic enterprise separate from Honeywell. In doing so, Bendix/King has created a new opportunity for innovation and technical development.

General aviation pilots who have been familiar with the Bendix/King name collectively began scratching their heads a bit during the last decade. It wasn't so much that the company had made missteps in the avionics world, it just seemed they were being surpassed by newer and smaller competitors.

In the early 1990s, companies like Garmin swept past Bendix/King with their introduction of game-changing avionics like the now ubiquitous GNS 430. They weren't the only ones: Avidyne and others began developing standalone GPS navigators and entire avionics suites that left Bendix/King behind. Though the company had developed the popular KLN series of products, they quickly fell behind competitors' offerings, with their monochromatic displays and not-so-intuitive user interface.

One bright spot was the AV8OR product, which was a portable handheld GPS navigator and electronic flight bag complete with geo-referenced charts and color touch display. But the AV8OR came just ahead of the iPad revolution, which offered the same capabilities and more for less money. Most manufacturers stopped innovation on their handheld navigators and concentrated on iPad applications or branching into other areas in avionics.

Bendix/King certainly felt the slipping and did several things to stop the slide. First, they hired Kevin Gould to lead the reinvigorated company—a Harvard MBA with vast experience in aviation courtesy of Boeing, Piper and others. Gould brought a "start-up" mentality to Bendix/King. The move to the Albuquerque area also put the company at the forefront of aviation innovation, joining lean and successful companies like Aspen Avionics and Eclipse Aviation. The move has given Bendix/King renewed life.

"We are excited about our product roadmap," said Roger Jollis, Vice President of Marketing for Bendix/King when Plane & Pilot caught up with him recently in New Mexico. "We have found through market research, our customers and focus groups, that the Bendix/King brand is remarkably strong and represents quality and reliability."


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