Garmin Takes Lead in Manufacture of GPS Systems
Five years ago, Garmin, the world’s leading manufacturer of navigational systems, bought one of Salem’s leading industrial gems, UPS Aviation Technologies, and renamed it Garmin AT. At the time, John MacNab, the general manager of UPS, said, “We look forward to offering new products that leverage the technology, creativity, and resources of the combined organization.” Garmin AT is now one of the stars of Garmin’s worldwide portfolio, and the reason is its leadership position in the ADS-B market, which it pioneered as well. ADS-B is an acronym for “Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast” – a sophisticated technology that allows aircraft to broadcast their vectors, or horizontal and vertical position and velocity, with unparalleled accuracy. But Garmin AT also makes a wide range of other aviation products, including integrated cockpits, transponders, radar and other avionics. The 2003 purchase of UPS Aviation essentially completed a puzzle for Garmin. It had been a leader in ground and marine-based aviation navigation systems, and this took its leadership to the air as well. Garmin’s growth has been rapid, and a key reason is AT, which is now undergoing a major expansion in Salem. Not only has the Salem-based unit staked out a dominant role in the fast-growing worldwide avionics market, but a dominant role in the Oregon market as well. Just last spring, Oregon-based aircraft company Epic AIR announced it would employ Garmin cockpits in its experimental light jets and turboprops, and the Garmin G900X and Garmin G1000 in its planes. What’s the G900X, designed right here in Salem? Only perhaps the world’s most sophisticated avionics suite that combines all basic flight data onto a pair of 10.4-inch LCDs. Suggested retail: around $67,000.