Glass panel or not?

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Considering the purchase of a new or used Piper Archer. As a
strictly VFR weekend pilot, why should I consider the purchase of a
glass panel aircraft? The expense and occasional failure of these
systems have me concerned.

-- Martin Novak, October 20, 2007


A glass panel aircraft combines all of the software updates of Windows Vista with all of the convenience of having every software update being done by hiring an FAA certified mechanic to remove a box from your airplane, ground it for a few weeks, ship the box to the manufacturer who will bless it with some new paperwork, receive the box back and reinstall it into the panel.

If you want maximum availability of an aircraft and you don't need to fly a lot of IMC, a 1970s plane augmented with a Garmin 496 is probably the best option.

-- Philip Greenspun, October 23, 2007

Where do you get the info you need to wait 2 weeks to get a update done on a G1000? also it is done by Garmin for free, in the plane. Windows Vista is not used in the G1000 or any updates. If a box was to fail it is sent next day air and replaced free, you do not wait for that the box's are done on exchange.

-- john jones, November 1, 2007

In response to Mr Jones and the others that are all gag gag over glass panels I have these comments to offer.

Major Problem #1 -- Under both Garmin and Avidyne warranty policies, the "replacement" unit they send you does not have to be a factory fresh unit. I could buy a brand new airplane, have to send in a glass panel unit with only 20 hours on it for repaire, and get back a "replacement" that could have 200, 2000 or 20,000 hours on it. It could have cycled through a repair process dozens of times. Neither Avidyne or Garmin will reveal to the pilot the history of the replacement unit. I wrote an eamil to Garmin about whether this interpretation of my understanding of their warranty was true or not, and they never responded. And I told them in the letter that if they did not respond I would be posting that fact in these forums.

Problem #2 - What happens when the warranty expires? Well Avidyne answered that problem with an extended warranty that you can buy. I ask all the pilots out there, would you buy an airplance if you had to lease the engine from the manufacturer for $250 a month for the life of the airplane? Would you buy an airplance where you had the lease the propeller from the manufacturer for $250 a month? Of course not. And I would also not buy an airplane where I am going to have to pay Avidyne $250 a month to keep an extended warranty in force so that I can continue to fly my airplance with out having to worry about a $25,000 repair bill. Garmin has not taken up the issue of the extended warranty yet, at least I have not heard of any news in that area since I last checked with them. When I tried to find out what the true replacement costs of the G1000 components would be, assuming that there may never be a Garmin extended warranty, no one at Garmin would qoute me any dollar amounts. I guess those numbers are for the OEMs only. Hmmmmmm..... why is that?

Problem #3 - I finally test flew a Cessna 182 with the G1000. I do not care what sales reps and the manufacturer say, you CAN NOT read those panels in direct sunlight. Yes, you can see them in the daylight, but if the sun is coming directly into the cockpit and shining on the panles you can not see anything. It's like trying to watch a TV on your deck at home. Forget it. Wearing sun glasses makes the problem even worse. But even taking off the sunglasses I could not read the panel until I changed the heading of the airplane to get out of the sun.

Problem #4 - All those charts and weather updates that come with the glass panels may be great, but most people are not aware that you have to pay a monthly service charge, or pay per useage each time, with your credit card. But hey, whats another couple of hundred bucks a month 12 months a year to fly with the new technology??

Problem #5 -- The bottom line with either the Garmin or Avidyne panels is that you are putting your life on the line with a Windows operating system. How many times has your Windows operating system thrown up that window asking you to report a problem to Mircosoft about a problem it encountered running you programs, or just frozen up totally? If the Garmin panels are so reliable, then I ask to see the Level A reliability rating from the FAA -- the standard used in commercial aircraft ----- where the failure rate has been determined to be less then 1 in 1 billion. Chelton has that rating. Ask the people at Avidyne and Garmin about that, but do not be supprised if they act like they do not even know what you are talking about, because in all honestly, they probably do not.

Problem #6 -- I see from time to time pilots saying that the Garmin panels will sooner or later be upgraded to include a "highway in the sky" 3-D artifical flight system like Chelton has. I spoke to some tech people ( and where they work I can not say, but you can take a wild guess) about whether that would ever happen. The answer was no way. The Windows operating platform that Garmin is using does not have the processing power to handle the necessary programming to make the Garmin systems operate on that level.

-- chris gregory, December 1, 2007

Well, looks like Problem #6 has been solved and Garmin's "highway in the sky" looks very impressive and useful.

-- Clifton Rybick, June 14, 2008

Yes #6 is down the tubes,, your techs do not know much G1000 does not run on anything like windows runs on a PC, did your techs tell you that? if you go with any other than Garmin glass remember BataMax?

-- john jones, July 15, 2008