22 posts

Next generation – Garmin GTN650Xi COM/NAV/GPS

The GTN650 was initially released in 2011 as a replacement for the GNS430/W series. 8th January 2020 Garmin made a press release announcing the next generation of the GTN series. Compared to the GTN650 the new GTN650Xi will have a dual core processor, slightly different front panel with the HOME and Direct To buttons grouped together and a new display with higher resolution pixel density (IPS display). The already existing GTN series STC’s are revised to include the new GTN Xi series part numbers in fact, the FAA STC has already been approved and the EASA STC should be approved shortly after.

For full press release click here. For more information about the GTN Xi series click here.

Garmin GFC500 autopilot

Bring some new life to an older aircraft, is it possible?

Piper PA28 Series. Dual Garmin G5 EFIS attitude/HSI with OAT module connected to a Garmin GNS430W COM/NAV/GPS, installed a Garmin GNC255A COM/NAV2 and Garmin GFC500 autopilot with automatic pitch trim.

The GFC500 autopilot requires that a Garmin G5 system is installed and you will also need a compatible GPS navigator such as the GNS430W or GTN650/750.  The GAD13 OAT module is optional but recommended. The Garmin Flight Stream FS210 (GNS430W) or FS510 for the GTN Series adds bluetooth connectivity and makes it possible to do your flight planning using the Garmin Pilot software.

Garmin G5 EFIS and GFC500 for Piper PA28-181

Next up is the removal of existing VAC driven attitude/directional gyro, Century 21 autopilot and Piper original pitch trim system. Installation of Garmin G5 EFIS Attitude/HSI compass sytem and Garmin GFC500 pitch/roll with optional pitch trim. The new Garmin GSA28 servo has a brushless DC motor and an electronic slip clutch that is adjustable via the installation menu. For more information about the GFC500 autopilot click here: Garmin GFC500

Garmin G5, compassystem and attitude indicator.

In this particular case the VAC system and VAC attitude gyro remains installed (due to the Century IIB autopilot). Garmin GMA345 bluetooth enabled audio panel with intercom system, Garmin GTN650 COM/NAV/GPS with Garmin FlightStream FS510 WiFi/Bluetooth adapter that enables communication with an Ipad and the Garmin Pilot Software package, GNC255A COM/NAV as a backup and the Garmin GTX335 Mode-S transponder with ADS-B out. The owner plans to install the Garmin GFC500 autopilot but meanwhile he will be able to enjoy the GPSS function provided by the G5 adding new life to the old Century IIB autopilot.

Garmin G5, directional gyro replacement

Garmin G5 – the versatile replacement for VAC driven instruments. Below a picture of a Piper PA28 were we replaced the VAC driven directional gyro for a G5 HSI with a remote magnetometer and autopilot interface. We also installed a Garmin GNC255A COM/NAV. G5 HSI system (hardware only) is about $3100 compared to a CDI electro mechanical NAV indicator USD2300. The G5 has it’s limitations – it will not (fully) interface with 70’s technology so the attitude indicator had to stay – required by the old Century IIB autopilot.

Garmin GFC500 Autopilot receives EASA approval

To read the full press release click the link > PRESS RELEASE
For more information about the Garmin GFC500 autopilot follow this link > Garmin GFC500

The GFC500 is a 2 axis Pitch/Roll autopilot with electonic pitch trim as an option and requires that the Garmin G5 EFIS is installed in the aircraft. For a full list of supported aircraft  – refer to the Garmin official website.


When size matters, Avidyne IFD540

The Garmin GNS430(W) has been the standard COM/NAV/GPS navigator for a couple of decades and may be found in many GA aircraft. However some think that the screen size of the GNS430 and also GTN650 is a little to small and there is not enough room for the large Garmin GTN750. In these cases the Avidyne IFD540 (Garmin GNS530 plug/play replacement) may be an option as seen in the picture below. If you have an Ipad you can download a Garmin and/or Avidyne simulator from the Apple Store free of charge.

Garmin GNS430 Series still going strong?

The Garmin GNS430 came in 1998 and the first version was a 28V unit and a couple years later a 14/28V was released followed by a GNS430 with internal terrain database. In approximately 2006 the Garmin GNS430W (WAAS) was introduced. The list price 2019 for a GNS430 to GNS430W upgrade is USD 4495, another 300 Euro for the WAAS STC. A few hours to replace the existing GA56 for a GA35 GPS antenna and a few hours to complete the paperwork. The list price for the GNS430 in 1998 was USD 9250 and the second hand price is still very high, specially for the 430W model. In recent years we have installed many used GNS430/GNS430W and if you are able to find one to a reasonable price this may well be a fair deal. The picture below shows the second Socata TB10 that we modified belonging to Gotlands Flygklubb. Garmin GMA345 Bluetooth audiopanel/intercom, used GNS430W COM/NAV/GPS 1, GNC255A COM/NAV 2, Trig Avionics TT31 ADS-B out transponder.

8.33kHz COM frequencies and Navigation database incompatibility – ie the GNS430/W is not able to retrieve and display frequency information from the navigation database for 8.33kHz channels. This also affects Garmin G500/G1000 with older software versions. Garmin recently released a Service Advisory No: 1865A with information about this issue –1865A

Aspen Avionics Evolution E5 EFIS

The Aspen Avionics E5 EFIS display has finally received FAA STC approval but we will have to wait some more for the EASA STC.  Just like the Garmin G5 the Aspen E5 is not TSO approved and must be installed in accordance with the  FAA/EASA STC.

The E5 is a downscaled version of the EFD series and lacks OAT, backup GPS and some of the more advanced features found in the EFD1000PRO. Pricing of the E5 is about $5000 and $6000 with ACU module (required for autopilot connection) which make the E5 it slightly more expensive than the Garmin G5 ATT/HSI combination.

The Aspen EFD1000PRO requires that a backup attitude indicator remains installed but the with the E5 the attitude indicator may be removed if you keep the T/B indicator, this makes it possible to also remove the aircrafts vacuum system. For more information about the E5 system click here