BendixKing has delayed by 60 days the rollout of a factory-only legacy radio unit repair and exchange policy. The new procedures were originally scheduled to take effect July 1, according to a May 2017 dealer newsletter signed by BendixKing President Gregg Cohen.
The new policy prevents avionics shops from performing field repairs to scores of BendixKing communication or navigation components installed in thousands of general aviation aircraft.
Roger Dykmann, BendixKing’s vice president of marketing and product development, told AOPA that there are, however, several notable exceptions.
However, several hundred pieces of BendixKing electronics—from audio panels to transponders—will be affected by the policy that requires only factory repairs and exchanges. As word spread about the new policy, many aircraft owners worried about rising repair prices. Several remembered the declining service that affected Narco radio owners when that company switched to a factory-driven repair scenario in the late 1990s, which eventually led to its demise.
BendixKing cited several reasons for the shift—improving customer satisfaction, providing a more robust warranty, and leveraging an in-house exchange program that has been largely dormant since its inception decades ago.
Dykmann said factory repairs are intended to make better use of BendixKing’s Sperry Exchange Program (SPEX), gained through the 80-year-old radio division’s acquisitions and mergers. The SPEX program dates back to when Honeywell and Allied joined forces and “has been in place for decades,” Dykmann added, but the exchange program has been underutilized until now. He pointed out that the company has an inventory of replacement units on the shelf for its hundreds of different radio and navigational models and is further beefing up production in advance of the changeover. He explained that BendixKing has produced thousands of radio components over the decades and the shop currently repairs "some 700 different part numbers every year."
The scenario calls for an aircraft owner to visit an avionics facility so a professional can diagnose the problem, remove and send the defective avionics to the factory, and await an exchange unit. According to the newsletter, “aircraft owners [would] receive a replacement unit within a few days” and shorten an aircraft's time on the ground.
“Our target is to provide an exchange unit within 48 hours of the request (on their dock),” Dykmann told AOPA in an email, and “will strive for 24 hours.” About 90 different models of electronics were already in BendixKing’s SPEX exchange program, and the new procedures add about 160 more. Dykmann pointed out that "all new repairs will carry a one-year warranty at the unit level."
Tim Jones of Atlanta-based Epps Aviation said that the repair policy would not drastically alter the workflow in his avionics shop. “We kind of moved away from bench repair stuff,” Jones told AOPA. “We’re more of a troubleshoot-and-exchange shop.” He added that Epps avionics technicians install a lot of new equipment, and the proposed procedures help better allocate an avionics technician’s time. “If we can do an exchange and move on to the next thing, it’s not a bad thing,” he explained.
He added that the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport-based shop is busy with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) installations, IFR certifications, and other avionics upgrades. In the newsletter, BendixKing cited an expected backlog of ADS-B installations as one of the reasons for the factory-repair shift.
Dykmann earlier told AOPA that the company’s “overall intent is that we improve customer satisfaction and turn-around time.” He explained that to prepare for the change, BendixKing “did a pretty extensive analysis to see what parts our dealers and repair shops were buying” and surveyed service centers to see what was typically repaired in a given time period.
AOPA requested, and Dykmann provided, sample factory repair charges for several commonly installed BendixKing legacy radio units typically found in GA aircraft.
The KMA 24(H) audio panel has a flat rate list price repair of $1,274; a KLN 90B GPS is $3,228; a KY 97A com radio is $995; a KI 204 indicator is $995; a KT 76C Mode C transponder is $1,423; and a KS 271A roll servo or a KS 272A trim servo for the KFC 150 autopilot system has a flat rate list price for repair of $1,476.
Dykmann said there was mixed reaction to the company’s new repair policy, as expected, but stressed that “some folks are very much on board” with the changes. He reiterated that the company is using the 60-day delay to further educate dealers on the changes, ramp up inventory, and finalize support plans for SPEX.