With 25 years in the business, and more than 9,200 pieces of used avionics in inventory, not much surprises Scott DeHart of Bennett Avionics. As the avionics industry rolls out the latest marvel, he knows at some point he’ll have the hot, new stuff, albeit used, on his South Windsor, Connecticut, store shelf. For this reason and others, buying used is not just the smart choice. It’s the only choice. Bennett Avionics is one of the lead advertisers of AVweb’s new classified system.
But there is one trend that gives this industry veteran a bit of a chuckle. The old, analog Bendix King KX170B radios from the 70s are still selling briskly. He’s moved 22 of them so far this year. And the newer “digital” display Bendix radios from the 80s are dying out because their displays no longer work. It’s the avionics answer to the ubiquitous T-shirt phrase: “Old Guys Rule.”
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There are two paths a piece of avionic equipment might take toward Bennett’s impressive array of inventory. Bennett receives nav/comm equipment that may have been removed because an owner is upgrading. Or, defective radios might find their way to Bennett, in which case they are repaired to as-new condition. Eighty percent of failed radios can be repaired, according to DeHart. Any remaining gear deemed unrepairable is subject to salvage.
So, what about those 80s-era digital Bendix radios? The astute folks at TKM have created the MX170B slide-in replacement. Avionics repair and replacement is a solutions-oriented business.
Here are some trends and insights DeHart shared with AVweb recently:
- The ability to save money with used avionics is related to the pace of technology change. For example, the price of mode C transponders has come down with the advent of ADS-B. Bennett used to sell the GTX-327 for $1,595, but they’ve come down to as little as $895. Where technology is stable, like the KX-170B, the radio holds its value.
- Sometimes a used-avionics customer is not sold on the new technology, making a used item more attractive. For instance, a customer may not like using the touchscreens of the GTN 650 / 750 in turbulence, making the traditional buttons and knobs of the GNS 430W / 530W more attractive.
- Bennett has customers all along what it calls “the spectrum of urgency.” One pilot may be building or rebuilding an airplane that isn’t ready to fly, so he or she is in no hurry. Another pilot is on the wrong side of the country, and needs a replacement radio to get home. “We can meet both their needs, and those in between,” says DeHart.
- Any used radio will have some wear on the faceplate; it’s just a matter of degree. “Bennett Avionics sells some of the best-looking used avionics you will find anywhere,” he says.
- Bennett deals with enough volume to be able to spot reliability trends, and to know if a particular model has an “Achilles’ heel”. “If we don’t have confidence in a model, if it is too old to repair or to cover with our warranty, we won’t sell it,” says DeHart.
- It might take a while, but even the latest and greatest piece of avionics—like the Garmin G500 and G1000—eventually finds its way onto the used avionics market.
What about price?
Don’t expect any killer deals on the used avionics market. DeHart explains that a used Garmin 530/430 unit will cost just about the same used as it cost when it was new. Yes, the march of time might will have lowered that price, but supply chain shortfalls have kept the price of used avionics relatively high. Why? Demand for used equipment remains high because shops can’t get new equipment. An airplane needs to keep flying; hence the used alternative is in big demand while the avionics world sorts itself out.
And what about that used KX170B? “It sells for the same price it sold for 25 years ago,” says DeHart. “You can say that for most of the stuff we sell.”
Bennett Avionics also provides a vital service for avionics installers. “Shops don’t like tying up money in inventory. A customer might need a piece of gear tomorrow, and a shop might not have it in stock. We’ll have that equipment right on the shelf.”
“It’s all about connecting sellers with buyers,” DeHart concludes. During our conversation, a client in France was looking for a replacement navigator. You can bet Bennett Avionics had it safely tucked away, and ready to go.
To reach a dynamic aviation marketplace, Bennett Avionics uses the power of AVweb’s classified system. AVweb’s Flash makes two million monthly impressions, reaching pilots, flight departments, flight schools and OEMs. To learn more, visit classifieds.avweb.com. For more information on Bennett Avionics, visit www.bennettavionics.com.