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Unless you've been in jail for the last few months or in Pakistan looking for terrorists, you're aware that Garmin purchased UPSAT a few months back. You also are aware that UPSAT came out with their new WAAS approved TSO C146 GPS CNX80 mid 2003. This new product was supposed to be the next generation panel-mounted GPS. Since Garmin's purchase of the UPSAT line, the company has been tight lipped with regards to which products will be retained and which ones will go to the chopping block. Let's face it, do they need another transponder or audio panel? Do they need another panel-mounted GPS? Personally I wish Garmin had given general aviation an idea on what lies in the future but for some reason they didn't. In my opinion their "sound of silence" has hurt the sale of the CNX80 and to some extent the sales of the GNS430/530. Some of you have mentioned to me that you feel Garmin is going to kill the GNS530 and keep the CNX80, other feel just the opposite and that the CNX80 will soon die. The silence from Garmin has hurt Garmin sales to some degree and sent some aircraft owners over the Honeywell avionics way of thinking. Recently we installed a large Honeywell radio package because the owner wasn't sure what Garmin products would be around in the future. The company really wanted a full set of Garmin radios but were afraid the GNS series would become a thing of the past in short order. The customer had a good point.
The question asked is, "Why doesn't Garmin state what their long term intentions are" with regards to their recent purchase of UPSAT. It leads some to think that maybe, just maybe Garmin doesn't know where to go from here. I would have to disagree. Why? A successful company the size of Garmin obviously had plans for the UPSAT products prior to the purchase. I don't believe Garmin went into the purchase of UPSAT without a long term plan but as to why they aren't telling, I haven't a clue. But I do know their silence is hurting Garmin sales, especially CNX80 sales.
What about the CNX80; it is dead? The CNX80 has struggled ever since its existence. Some shops installed the product and "kicked" the owner out the door with little or no proper training; thus the owner found the unit difficult to operate and blamed it on the box. The CNX80's reputation for being difficult to operate spread like wildfire and sales slumped. The CNX80 was delivered with a box of bugs; most of the problems with the unit have been fixed with the latest software update. Yes, there are still some issues with operation of the unit but I'm sure they will be cured in the near future. Then the bombshell hit with the word that Garmin had purchased UPSAT. Avionics West had six orders for the CNX80 that were canceled once Garmin purchased the company. Had Garmin announced their plans at that time with regards to keeping the CNX80 in production chances are I wouldn't have lost those sales.
But there is some good news. Garmin AT (formally UPSAT) announced that they expect the CNX80 to be certified for GAMA 3 approaches near the end of November, 2003! This certification would allow for vertical GPS navigation with an approved approach. I don't think there are any approved approaches yet but when the FAA approves them, the CNX80 will be ready. Garmin AT just released a new software version for the CNX80 to cure some problems and enhance some of the features. I also learned that Garmin AT is working on some of the problems I found with the CNX80 and should be released in the next revision. Now get this; Garmin is requiring every member or their sales team to fly to Salem OR and train on the CNX80. In the near future you'll not only see the GNX430/530 at the Garmin booth but the CNX80 also.
Will Garmin Kill the CNX80? In my opinion Garmin will
keep the GNS400/500 series along with the CNX80. Each product has
a particular marketplace and that market is determined by how the
product is used, aircraft type and price. Looking into my crystal
ball, I see the SL70 UPSAT transponder die along with the SL series
audio panels. By the way, the SL UPSAT audio panels are
manufactured by PS-Engineering. Even though PS-Engineering
manufactures a great panel, Garmin doesn't need it. Also expect
the GX series UPSAT panel-mounted GPS's to die as they should. Expect
advancements and enhancements with the GNS400/500 series and the CNX80.
As to why Garmin continues to keep silent as to their direction I can't
answer but I do feel the CNX80 and the GNX430/530 will be available,
enhanced and updated for a long time to come. If you agree or not,
that's OK but this is My Point of View.