Aviation In Canada

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Garmin's G1000

I've been reading the odd article lately about LCD panels for instrumentation in General Aviation aircraft. Being a gadget geek, I love this idea, but being a paranoid, safety minded individual, can't help but wonder about how reliable such a thing might be. Enter the Garmin G1000. Click here for more details.

The current issue of the Aviation Safety Letter made some points about it when examining the pros and cons. On the plus side, they mention how all the data comes together in a logical way and the various instruments are integrated for the pilot for at-a-glance viewing, rather than requiring scans of several panel areas and mental processing to put the items together. They also mention that getting used to such a system takes a course of one or two days provided by the manufacturer, and they still recommend flying VFR for a few hours first to get accustomed to it all before flying IMC.

Another item they bring forward is that recent developments of such systems generally took several minutes while the system initialized before the displays could be used. "Kick the tires and light the fires" kind of pilots could find themselves at the runway threshold, otherwise ready for take-off, without the displays being fully initialized. Garmin's G1000, reportedly, can be ready in as little as 30s. They also appeal to my paranoid side. I always consider failure of the display. Apart from the back-up steam-driven dials that accompany the system, the maunfacturer claims an unreal Mean Time Between Failures that exceeds the MTBF for the back-up dials. They don't go into an electrical failure and how long these will last. The 10" displays probably draw upwards of 1-1.5 amps each, so a battery will only last so long when powering these puppies.

Either way, if you have the extra $20-30K sitting around, you could have yourself a fully digital cockpit in your Cessna or Mooney, just like the pilot of the "big iron". I like it, personally. I just need someone to build one of these for Flight Sim, since I'll never be buying a real plane...