Simrad Navico, a leader in electronic marine navigation, has been turning out industry leading autopilots for decades, but has recently made a strong push into the commercial fishing market.

“We are the largest marine electronic maker in the industry and we started to make a more aggressive push into the commercial space six or seven years ago,” said Marius Suteu, the global director of professional markets for Brunswick-owned Simrad Navico.

In a short time, the company has made huge inroads. Suteu said commercial fishing already makes up around 30 percent of Simrad Navico’s global business, with approximately 300 to 400 new installs on fishing vessels annually, mostly in boats from 30 to 150 feet.

“Commercial fishing is very important to us. We have a comprehensive portfolio of navigational products that we can mix and match in a way that will provide a good package to most customers,” Suteu said.

While Navico turns out radars and MFDs and other electronics, Suteu said the flagship product is the autopilot.

“We have over 70 years of heritage in making autopilots. We have some of the most trusted autopilots in the industry right now, the AP70 Mk2 and its little brother, the A2004,” Suteu said.

The AP70 Mk2 has an easy-to-read display, along with a rotary control dial and configurable buttons dedicated to steering and work mode, as well as controls that can integrate up to six different rudders or thrusters. The efficient little black box, Suteu said, is the product of decades of research and development.

“The algorithm that is built in to follow the course and keep the ship steady is built on the legacy of multiple decades and probably hundreds of thousands of ships throughout all of these years. We have been working through trial and error and fixing and improving these products, which is one of the things that makes it so unique,” Suteu said.

Far from resting on their past, however, Simrad Navico pushes hard to innovate and keep their products at the head of the class, with features like single-click work mode settings.

“It’s super easy and super quick to switch work modes. We always try to stay ahead of the curve in terms of features and development for autopilot, and it’s been like that for years,” Suteu said.

Simrad Navico’s autopilots can be integrated into almost any vessel’s system and are compatible with all common rudder and drive types, from jets to rudders to outboards.

“I’ve been with Simrad Navico for seven years and I haven’t not seen a single compatibility issue,” Suteu said.

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Brian Hagenbuch is National Fisherman's products editor, a contributing editor to SeafoodSource and a Bristol Bay fisherman. He is based in Seattle.

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