Pilot's Guide to Avionics 2017-2018 - 55
First, Garmin's G3X Touch series displays, both 10.6inch glass systems, provide the C4 with state-of-the-art
performance and outstanding utility for pilots.
Second, according to Flight Design, the decision to use
a system that does not have a TSO approval on its own,
but will be certified together with the airframe, allows for a
significantly lower price point with much greater flexibility
for future system enhancements and upgrades.
And, parenthetically, the proposed revision of Part 23
helps both clarify the options available and seems to clear
the air regarding the debate about TSO'd versus nonTSO'd equipment in Part 23 aircraft - at least those not
used for commuter or Part 135 operations, a different issue
from the typical personal/business use of Part 23 aircraft.
The door opened even wider in April with the EAA's announcement of its STC allowing the Dynon D10 mini-EFIS
to substitute for a vacuum attitude indicator.
The EAA surprised some who didn't understand that
STCs can be earned by nonmanufacturing entities or licensed repair and maintenance operations.
The EAA first broke ground with an STC back in 1982,
when the association undertook years of research and
testing the use of 87 octane unleaded auto fuel, or Mogas, in aircraft with engines originally designed to run on
the then-disappearing 80-octane leaded aviation gasoline.
The EAA's STC for the Cessna 150 and 152 lead to
further STCs by Peterson Aviation - and the expansion of
those STCs to scores of aircraft models using low-compression engines facing the loss of 80 octane fuels.
Since then, the combined forces of insurers, fuelsuppliers' contracts and the introduction of Ethanol as a
pollution-reducing agent and a way to extend petroleum
supplies served to reduce the availability of 87 octane
unleaded auto fuel at airports.
But it established the EAA as a technically savvy organization for both the experimental and certificated markets
that helped lead to this latest STC.
So where to next?
With avionics makers other than Dynon applauding
the EAA's step forward, expect other companies to follow that lead and work on their own approvals for installing their previously nonapproved equipment in certificated aircraft - something that has caused many Part 23
aircraft owners to look on with envy at their friends flying
The root question usually takes a form something
like this: "If the FAA can approve nonapproved avionics
for IFR in experimental aircraft, why not in certificated
The path exists, but has been cluttered by the roadblocks of misconceptions, misreading of the Federal
Aviation Regulations, and aviation's reluctance to let go of
old-wives' tales and other commonly held errors in understanding.
As Peri noted, "The AEA as well as others within the
industry have spent the better part of the last decade trying to bridge the gap between the top end of EAB and
LSA and the bottom end of Part 23 (especially the older
CAR 3). This latest exercise shows that 'evolution' is starting to take hold."
So don't be surprised if a company like Garmin follows
the flight path of the EAA and Dynon for its latest D10
mini-EFIS with the G5 electronic flight instrument for experimental, amateur-built and light-sport aircraft.
Similar to the Dynon product, Garmin's compact, lowcost G5 self-contained PFD offers solid performance and
reliability serving as either a backup instrument to G3X
destined for the C4, or other EFIS systems.
But the company also promotes the G5 as a standalone PFD, with optional autopilot mode annunciation.
Its 3.5-inch display is a bright and sunlight-readable LCD
with built-in GPS. It displays attitude, ground track, altitude, airspeed, groundspeed, vertical speed, slip/skid,
course (lateral) deviation, vertical deviation and incorporates a dedicated HSI page.
Integrate the G5 with the G3X to make more capabilities. Garmin even equipped the G5 to serve as part of
a highly capable stand-alone autopilot when paired with
Garmin's compatible autopilot mode controllers and autopilot servos.
Can other avionics makers be far behind?
And what happens when the revised Part 23 takes effect, possibly as early as year's end?
Well, according to visits with avionics manufacturers
and planemakers at Sun 'n Fun back in April, an entire
new era in panel equipage could dawn.
Except ... for much of what owners would like to do with
their certificated aircraft, the door is already open since
the Federal Aviation Regulations require TSOs of only a
couple of pieces of equipment - one for VFR and IFR, the
other strictly for IFR.
TSO'd transponders remain the one piece of gear
common to the vast majority of panels, VFR or IFR, if the
aircraft plans to operate in most airspace.
The other: WAAS GPS IFR navigators. And even that
could change if an avionics maker goes as far as making
a non-TSO'd model that meets the requirements for the
approach database required under the current TSO.
This doesn't mean, however, that pilots can feel free to
stick just any instrument in their panels. While a TSO may
not be required, equipment that meets the performance
standards still is - and it's still up to the manufacturer to
document how they can show that level of compliance.
But between the EAA, Dynon, the AEA and the Part
23 rewrite, general aviation is poised on the brink of
progress that can't help but make some parts of flying
more affordable - and given the advantages of electronic sensing and displays over analog instruments - more
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