Garmin Rolls Out New Navcomms

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With glass everything the rule rather than exception, the lowly navcomm hasn't seen much market push lately, but Garmin changed that this week with a series of new VHF navcomms. The GTR and GNC series will replace the aging but still popular SL 30 and SL 40 radios, which were developed more than a decade ago by the then UPSAT. Garmin bought that company and its product line in 2003. Although the SL series had digital and frequency storage and monitoring features that buyers liked, the GTR and GNC products offer features not seen thus far in navcomms. The GNC is the follow-on for the SL 30 navcomm while the GTR is a comm-only radio, addressing the same market space as the SL 40.

Like modern glass suites, the new radios will have displayed frequency databases, meaning pilots can find frequencies associated with named airports or navaids, and there's also a reverse lookup feature. Data such as nearest control tower, terminal radar or center can also be accessed and as with the SL series, one frequency can be monitored while another is in use. The radios will store the 20 most recently used frequencies, plus up to 15 of the most used frequencies, such as the home tower, ground and radar freqs.

For the upgrade market, both series will include a built-in voice-activated intercom and the GNC series will drive displays including Garmin's G500, G600, G500H and the G3X, which is popular in experimental and LSA aircraft. The GNC will also drive the Bendix/King KI208, one of the most popular indicators in the fleet. However, the new radios are not pin-compatible with the SL product line and will require new installation kits and hardware.

The transmitters also pack more RF punch than the SL series did. Both are available with 10- or 16-watt transmit power, compared to eight watts for the SL series. The radios meet the 8.33 kHz channel spacing requirement just put in place by the European Union. Prices for the series start at $1995 for the comm-only version. For more, see Garmin.com.