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Tue, Jul 27, 2004

Garmin Announces XM Weather Interface

WxWorx weather to be available thru XM Weather on G1000, MX20 with new GDL-69/69A

Garmin today announced at AirVenture 2004 that they will provide a new weather information service for their G1000 and MX20 units using the company's new GDL-69/69A XM weather downlink units. TSO certification is expected by the end of August.

The new service and hardware will provide real time weather, radar, lightning coverage, TFR's and other information up linked by WxWorx to the XM service, which will then retransmit the data to its subscriber's receivers. The G1000 and MX20 can then query the information that has been buffered and display a wide range of information to the pilot.

The XM company currently has 2.1 million subscribers in the US, and have two geostationary satellites covering CONUS. The "Rock" satellite provides coverage focused on longitude 85W, and the "Roll"  satellite focuses its coverage on 115W. Together, the two satellites cover the country on the S-band, which is impervious to the type of disruptions commonly seen on services such as DirecTV. The new XM weather boxes from Garmin are capable of receiving and combining the signals from both satellites to provide total coverage. It is expected that the range of the signal will increase some due to altitude differences, but Rob MacKenzie of XM did not elaborate on the extent of the additional coverage.

The service is expected to become available in September, and will consist of two tiers of service, "Aviator Lite" and "Aviator." The former will be priced at $29.95 per month and will provide basic weather information. The latter will be priced at $49.95 and will provide the user with what Garmin describes as the "deluxe" weather information package.

There were a number of other announcements from Garmin; the GDL-49 satellite weather unit's software version 2.0.4 was released some two weeks ago and is being provided to customers at no charge. The unit increases performance of the unit by some 30 to 40 percent.

The CNX-80 product, which Garmin acquired when it purchased the UPS avionics division, will be renamed to the GNS-480 in August, when it is expected that enhanced capabilities will be certified. The GNS-480 will support Gamma-3 WAAS, Traffic Information Service (TIS) data link from the GTX-33 remote transponder or the GTX-330 panel-mount transponder. Software upgrades to the existing CNX-80 user base will be provided at no charge.

Finally, ANN asked Garmin's Aviation Marketing Manager, Tim Casey, if there was any truth to the rumor that Garmin had instituted a Minimum Retail Pricing policy, and if dealers would be barred from doing business with Garmin if they did not follow the policy. MRP policies establish that dealers cannot sell product for less than what the manufacture establishes as the minimum price. Mr. Casey confirmed that the company has indeed instituted an MRP policy, but that there are no penalties in the program that would result in termination of the dealer agreement.

FMI: www.garmin.com

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