July 22, 2012
It's been a while since we've seen new avionics products from Bendix/King, so much so that the company has fallen to second-tier status with many buyers and dealers. But at AirVenture 2012, the company hopes to change that with the introduction of two new products -- a smart audio panel and a new tablet app -- with more products in the pipeline in the coming months, according to Jeff Simon, Bendix/King's director of strategic marketing. "Bendix/King is back and we're just getting rolling," Simon told AVweb in a pre-opening day interview in Oshkosh on Sunday. "We've got a lot of stuff in the works and we are looking to surprise people," he added. The two lead-off products are the new KMA30 six-place audio panel and an iPad app called MyWingman, which is intended to work with Aspen Avionics' Connected Panel cockpit network.
The $2299 KMA30, essentially a rebranded audio panel from PSEngineering, has both Bluetooth and hardwire interfaces for external audio and includes such features as multiple-tiered comm recording and the ability to switch music and radio functions among all the intercom stations in the aircraft. It also features voice-activated control for some of its critical functions, Simon said. The KMA30 is a slide-in replacement for another popular audio panel, the Garmin GMA340.
Responding to an almost overwhelming demand for iPad and tablet-related cockpit applications, Bendix/King's MyWingman app combines flight planning and management functions in an iPad package capable of talking to onboard avionics through Aspen's Connected Panel. Initially, said Simon, the app will be capable of transferring flight plans to the KSN770 navigator, which Bendix/King says it's still massaging through the final steps of certification, and Aspen's Evolution series aftermarket EFIS system. But eventually, the MyWingman app will have other integrated functions with cockpit hardware, although Simon wasn't specific about what those will be.
The app is what Bendix/King calls "flat," in that it isn't layered with sub-menus or functions that aren't immediately visible on the touchscreen. It's organized by flight function, from planning, to departure, to approach and landing, and has a unique and easy-to-manage multiple split-screen function that Simon said is intuitive to manage without requiring much familiarization. In addition to weather, navigation data and a full suite of chart functions, MyWingman can also do synthetic vision in any one of its three windows. Simon said Bendix/King's goal is to produce high-value products that are transparently easy to use and which link seamlessly between tablets and cockpit hardware. For instance, the MyWingman app revises its navigation data automatically from the cloud anytime it's in range of a wireless node. "We view it as more of relationship than a traditional data subscription," Simon explained. The MyWingman app will be available through iTunes and will cost $99 a year for VFR data and $149 a year for an IFR version, which includes high- and low-altitude en route charts and approach plates. The app requires a current subscription in order to function and is expected to be available in the ITunes app store before the end of the year.