Avionics News September 2020 - 20

TECHNOLOGY GIVES PISTON PANELS TURBINE-LEVEL TOOLS
Continued from page 19

avionics kit can interconnect and, in doing so, yield
more benefits from the combination - almost at the same
level as a fully integrated avionics package.
Avionics working together is hardly a new idea on the
field - it's been happening for decades. But usually, the
interconnectedness happened only with hours of labor,
yards of wiring and, typically, switching devices to
activate or deactivate the connections.
We still see that most commonly in audio-control
panels.
A bounty of benefits
With so many changes to today's avionics, one
arguable strength stems from the relative ease with
which technicians can connect these sundry boxes so the
pilot can enjoy the maximum of their capabilities. And
the combined strength of those capabilities brings the
capabilities of business-turbine aircraft to within reach
of pilots flying all but the most-humble piston aircraft.
Arguably, the benefit that seemed to deliver the
greatest surprise to new converts comes at the scales
when the maintenance technician weighs the upgraded
aircraft to generate a new weight-and-balance document.
The shift from those 13 pieces of avionics to three
yielded a 70-pound gain in useful load thanks to the
loss of weight from old spinning-mass gyroscopic flight
instruments, analog air-data instruments, and old radios
loaded with circuit boards and transistors.
The all-in-one box - with its VHF comm, VHF nav,
WAAS GPS, integral intercom and a color MFD display
screen - weighs less than the individual bits of avionics
kit it replaces. The digital autopilot/flight-control box
incorporates solid-state MEMS sensors and digital
processing - and also weights less than the autopilot
removed. And the ability to carry more luggage,
passengers or fuel, a great improvement in the plane's
utility, is only the beginning of the benefits from today's
advancements in avionics integration.
Another benefit possible: saved panel space.
Thanks to some systems' availability of remotely
mounted components for transponders, VHF comm
and nav radios, upgrading to these panels, with their
ability to be controlled via a panel-mounted touchscreen
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september

2020

display, allows more flexibility in designing the avionics
stack. And remotely mounted components themselves
offer flexibility in where to mount them, increasing
the flexibility needed to avoid problems with the new
equipment challenging the aircraft's center of gravity.
Compounding cockpit capabilities
Functionality. That's the watchword for the gains
pilots enjoy from today's new avionics and their ability
to communicate and execute flying on a level only
possible in the analog age with the use of converters
and electronic intermediaries that added weight and
consumed more power.
Thanks to the use of standard interface languages
and the digital codes individual boxes use to
communicate the pilot's intent, today's modern digital
avionics typically need no intermediary devices to
translate commands between units. This new level of
interconnection typically happens far more simply - and
with the control functions already incorporated into the
devices.
A recent example comes from Garmin and its everexpanding suite of components capable of working
together. In mid-July, Garmin announced several
additions to the FAA's approval for the GFC 500 and
GFC 600 flight-control systems. In the three years since
launching these autopilot models, Garmin completed
supplemental type certifications for 42 approvals in
more than 30 popular aircraft, spanning nearly 200
aircraft models between the two autopilots. And Garmin
continues to pursue more aircraft approvals with many
more to follow.
For attitude reference - and in line with its ongoing
practice of providing for interconnectedness among
complementary products - Garmin designed the GFC
500 autopilot to uniquely integrate with its G5 or GI 275
electronic flight instruments. The G500 TXi and G600
TXi flight displays can also be paired with the GFC 500
and the G5 or GI 275 flight instruments, allowing flight
director and autopilot modes to be seamlessly integrated
on a larger format display.
Additionally, the GFC 500 and G5 can be used in
cooperation with the G3X Touch and the G500/G600
flight displays. Both autopilots employ their own
internal attitude reference sensors making the displays
a second layer of reference for the flight control and for



Avionics News September 2020

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Avionics News September 2020 - Intro
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Avionics News September 2020 - Cover2
Avionics News September 2020 - 1
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Avionics News September 2020 - Cover3
Avionics News September 2020 - Cover4
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