Upgrading Your Aging Avionics


Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 8.31.18 AM As an aircraft owner, pursuing an avionics upgrade can prove to be one of the larger and more important decisions you may make as you may find yourself answering a variety of questions, including:

  • What am I looking to get out of my avionics?
  • How much am I willing to invest into an avionics upgrade?
  • When should I pursue an avionics upgrade?
  • What do I absolutely need to have?
  • What would be nice to have?

At the rate modern avionics continues to advance, it’s important to take into consideration that whether you’re a VFR or IFR pilot, you have the potential to access more information than ever before. This accessibility lends itself to a number of reasons for an avionics upgrade and below are just a few reasons why it may be the best decision you make when it comes to investing in your aircraft: Opportunity to see and receive more information than ever before Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 8.32.54 AM As a student pilot, I can recall the huge intimidation factor associated with navigating the menu structure of the GNS 430 until it came time for my solo cross-country. Fast forward ten years and we went from being thankful to have a small two-and-a-half-inch moving map on the 430 to a seven-inch touchscreen multi-function display on the GTN 750 that displays geo-referenced approach plates, includes an internal airport directory database and gives you the opportunity to receive, weather, traffic, TFRs, NOTAMs… the list goes on and on and so does the GTN’s feature set. More information, easier accessibility to that information = reduced pilot workload! Increased safety Speaking of reduced pilot workload, the impact an enhanced avionics package can have on safety is immense and not necessarily realized until these features are put to good use. For example, the option to graphically edit your flight plan around a line of thunderstorms is a quick and easy way to modify any existing flight plan, particularly in a high-stress environment full of weather and/or traffic. They say once you fly with synthetic vision technology (SVT), you won’t want to fly without it! Incorporating a glass flight display system such as the G500/G600, offers an elevated level of situational awareness – especially in terrain-prone or unfamiliar environments. Enhanced cockpit integration Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 8.26.26 AM The option to incorporate all of the functionality you have available to you today (and more!) is possible by integrating products such as a GPS/NAV/COMM into a single product. Unique features such as 3D audio available with Garmin’s GTN series and GMA 35 remote audio panel or the option to overlay ADS-B In traffic and FIS-B weather information overtop of the moving map of the GTN or GNS series, is possible – further expanding the overall functionality and capabilities of a simple, standalone navigator. User interface advancements Touchscreen avionics, including the G3X Touch and GTN series closely mimic the presentation offered by our phones and tablets, which we undeniably use on a daily basis. While intimidating at first glance (or touch!), pilots quickly realize that navigating the user interface associated with touchscreen avionics, is familiar and easier to get to the information you need, fast! Investing in your aircraft, investing in the future There’s no question that investing in quality avionics and taking the time to plan out a beautiful installation (no matter how big or small), will benefit you and your airplane for years to come. A simple audio panel upgrade, GPS or ADS-B installation can set your aircraft apart from others on the market and surely deliver a solid return on your investment – an important factor as any when it comes to equipping your aircraft with upgraded avionics. Perhaps you’re one of many that are seeking out an avionics upgrade to replace the antiquated equipment that is currently in your panel or you’re seeking out an ADS-B solution ahead of the January 1, 2020 deadline? Maybe you’re a dreamer and your dream panel has potentially become reality? There are a number of reasons to consider an avionics upgrade path for your aircraft. The technology is here and available to us in a variety of forms and price points, it is up to us as pilots and aircraft owners to incorporate as much safety enhancing equipment as possible to make the skies safer for ourselves and the others that share the friendly skies with us. Hangen cockpit