Sandel Unveils King Air Retrofit Cockpit

Sandel Avionics Avilon Cockpit Layout Courtesy Sandel Avionics

Sandel, a name from the avionics world you might not be intimately familiar with, has unveiled a retrofit cockpit for the King Air 200 that is as noteworthy for the capabilities it packs inside as it is for its unusual pricing strategy.

The new Sandel Avilon avionics system includes four large LCD flight displays, two smaller data entry touch screens, radios, flight management computers, dual AHRS, audio panel, ADS-B-compliant Mode S transponder, and flight director/autopilot (minus the autopilot servos, which are retained). Here's the kicker. The guaranteed installed price is $175,000.

That figure is sure to pique the interest of King Air 200 owners who have been quoted a price of close to $100,000 for the labor alone to install competing systems.

Sandel Avionics president and CEO Gerry Block explained that the installation cost is predicted to be so low because the entire new Avilon instrument panel is shipped to dealers as essentially one piece.

"It takes only about five days to install our system, with 80 percent of the work being removal of the old equipment," he said.

Until now Sandel has been best known as a manufacturer of LED-backlit flight displays and terrain awareness and warning systems. The introduction of the Avilon cockpit, revealed to the aviation press at the NBAA Convention in Las Vegas yesterday, takes the company to a new level.

"We have been working on this for many years," Block said.

The system is currently flying in a company King Air 200 certification test bed. First customer installations are expected next summer. Sandel has partnered with three dealers in the United States (Stevens Aviation, Cutter Aviation and Landmark Aviation) and one in Canada (Rocky Mountain Aircraft), which all have agreed to honor the guaranteed $175,000 fly-away price.

It's an interesting approach since not every King Air is equipped with the same level of technology. The installation, for example, will be much easier if the airplane already has a WAAS antenna. If not, the price remains the same and the dealer install one.

"There are a lot of King Air cockpit retrofit choices, but very few people have been buying them because they are just too expensive to justify," Block said. "We think this price will and the capability our cockpit offers will get a lot of King Air operators off the fence."

Garmin, BendixKing and Rockwell Collins all offer retrofit cockpits for the King Air 200.


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