Another panel upgrade musing

idahoflier

Pattern Altitude
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Display name:
idahoflier
Hello!

Trying to decide if it’s worth upgrading my panel. Details:

C172N
6,000 TT
AirPlains O-360 conversion and GW STC’s
< 300 SMOH by PennYan in late 2019
State of the art 1993 panel consisting of two KX155 NAV/COM’s, KN64 DME, KR87 ADF,KI208 VOR Indicator, KI209 LOC/GLS Indicator, King KI225/7 ADF indicator.
Stratus ESG Transponder
Paint/Interior – Average

The stack sort of works. One KX155 display is shot and the last time I shot an ILS (VFR) I figured I would have made the approach if I averaged the LOC deflections (it wasn't my flying)… In other words, no way I would fly it IFR as-is, assuming it would pass a pitot/static check!

I have owned the aircraft 7 years and have ~ $85K all in including acquisition, transponder and overhaul.

Looking at the current TAP it looks to me like the aircraft is worth $130K. Back when I could run vref reports through AOPA it appraised ~ $145K.

I’m considering joining the 21st century and installing two Garmin GI275’s and a GTN650xi. Still waiting for quotes but guessing they will come in ~ $30K.

I really have no intention of flying IFR, but it’s clear to me that I need to do something with the avionics and it seems that most potential buyers are attracted to a reasonably capable IFR aircraft, so it would make sense to at least outfit the panel as a solid IFR start and let someone else easily finish it out with a second NAV/COM and/or autopilot if they want.

I think the aircraft equipped with the above upgrade would be worth ~ $150K or more, but even if I could only get $130K for it I would still be ~ $10K ahead so I’m not seeing any downside to the upgrade.

Anyone see any flaws with my logic? Thoughts? Opinions?
 
That’s a great combo, but only do it if you want it. If not, let somebody else deal with the downtime and cost.

We have 2x G5s and a GTN650 and removed the vac pump on our 172M.

ETA: a 172 for $150K is going to be a TAA, so put in a GFC500.
 
I'd probably skip the 650Xi and go with a GNC355 (WAAS GPS + COM) and a GNC215 (VHF NAV + COM) and keep the KN64 (assuming it's working). Or maybe resell the ESG and do a GNX375 + GNC215 + GTR205. The GTNs are great and you wouldn't be disappointed, but getting a second new COM would probably be better ... you also don't mention an audio panel, so I'd suggest putting one of those in, perhaps a PSEng 8000G or a GMA345. The GI-275s are also great, but the G5's would still be a massive improvement and a good cost savings.
 
Do it for safety of flight. You are never going to recover the investment in avionics. Having said that, having WAAS GPS is worth its weight in gold for VFR or IFR flight. If you want to save a few bucks, consider getting dual G5s with a GPS-COM like the GNC-355 and put in a modern audio panel from PS Engineering or Garmin. The dual G5s will allow ditching the vacuum system and the primary mechanical CDI. Keep or install a usable #2 NAV/COM/LOC/CDI for backup.

I fly IFR behind dual G5s (interfaced to a legacy STEC autopilot) and a GNS-430W, hooked up to a Garmin GMA-340 audio panel. It is super simple to fly enroute and approaches with this setup. I kept a backup NAV/COM/LOC and electronic CDI that rarely if ever gets used.
 
I'd probably skip the 650Xi and go with a GNC355 (WAAS GPS + COM) and a GNC215 (VHF NAV + COM) and keep the KN64 (assuming it's working). Or maybe resell the ESG and do a GNX375 + GNC215 + GTR205. The GTNs are great and you wouldn't be disappointed, but getting a second new COM would probably be better ... you also don't mention an audio panel, so I'd suggest putting one of those in, perhaps a PSEng 8000G or a GMA345. The GI-275s are also great, but the G5's would still be a massive improvement and a good cost savings.
I semi-agree here. Pull the bad KX155 for sure, but I'd give the other a good assessment if it has a glide scope. I'd rather have a GNX375 than a GNC355 because COM is a COM but the GNX375 gets you ADS-B In + Out. Plus, the knob is better on a GNX375 and you don't lose a data field to the frequency display. G5's are the better bang-for-buck than the GI275, but probably for your kind of flying the key thing there is that you can yank the vacuum system and gain back some useful load.

You could go with uAvionix AV-30's but those aren't quite serious for IFR just yet. That would also let you pull the vacuum system but you'll be rolling the dice that it becomes really good for IFR by the time you're ready to sell the plane. Or just let the next owner deal with it.

The ADF can probably go. The antenna alone probably weighs a fair bit, not to mention the wires and KR87 itself.
 
If you get the gi275 you have ti get the Garmin auto polit ouch$$$
 
That’s a great combo, but only do it if you want it. If not, let somebody else deal with the downtime and cost.

We have 2x G5s and a GTN650 and removed the vac pump on our 172M.

ETA: a 172 for $150K is going to be a TAA, so put in a GFC500.

A little concerned that the AI or HI could tumble tomorrow so a lot of this is trying to be proactive. Removing the vacuum pump is an added plus. I would love to install a GFC500, but if I'm not going to fly IFR I just can't justify it...
 
I'd probably skip the 650Xi and go with a GNC355 (WAAS GPS + COM) and a GNC215 (VHF NAV + COM) and keep the KN64 (assuming it's working). Or maybe resell the ESG and do a GNX375 + GNC215 + GTR205. The GTNs are great and you wouldn't be disappointed, but getting a second new COM would probably be better ... you also don't mention an audio panel, so I'd suggest putting one of those in, perhaps a PSEng 8000G or a GMA345. The GI-275s are also great, but the G5's would still be a massive improvement and a good cost savings.

I plan on keeping one of the KX155's and the KI209 OBS...
 
Do it for safety of flight. You are never going to recover the investment in avionics. Having said that, having WAAS GPS is worth its weight in gold for VFR or IFR flight. If you want to save a few bucks, consider getting dual G5s with a GPS-COM like the GNC-355 and put in a modern audio panel from PS Engineering or Garmin. The dual G5s will allow ditching the vacuum system and the primary mechanical CDI. Keep or install a usable #2 NAV/COM/LOC/CDI for backup.

I fly IFR behind dual G5s (interfaced to a legacy STEC autopilot) and a GNS-430W, hooked up to a Garmin GMA-340 audio panel. It is super simple to fly enroute and approaches with this setup. I kept a backup NAV/COM/LOC and electronic CDI that rarely if ever gets used.

Considered the G5's but I was told the GI275 was actually a bigger screen and I like the flush look. I'm OK with the extra 1-2 AMU. Agree on the avionics ROI, that was always my thought, but with as much as the airframe/engine has appreciated I will still be in the black if I sell the aircraft later...
 
Hi 275 $$ with only Garmin auto polit
 
Gi275 are great equipment but all you equipment has to Match to really work together
 
It would be worth considering a basic Dynon system with auto pilot and a GPS175. Drop me a message if you’d like to talk about this option.

I have thought about that too. I appreciate your offer, I would have definitely reached out for a quote if we were a little closer... ;)
 
Anyone see any flaws with my logic? Thoughts? Opinions?
Not to be crude, but buying avionics with the next buyer in mind is like buying a boob job for your girlfriend with her next boyfriend in mind. Only do that upgrade if you genuinely want/need it for your flying and plan on keeping the plane for a while. Otherwise better to just to sell that bird and try to find one more closely equipped to what you want. As chemgeek said, you'll never recover the financial investment so it's important to come to terms with not rationalizing a "want" as a "smart investment". Something I think every pilot struggles with.

That said, if you love the plane and want to keep it for a while, then go for it. I say this as a guy with a fairly low-time Cherokee 180C (~3000 hrs) who paid $74,000 for the plane and then just spent $55,000 on a full engine overhaul and upgrade (damn you, crankshaft!). Now I'm putting a GNX 375, a GNC 215, and a GI-275 EIS in there, which is going to probably run me about $30,000 installed. In the future, I'm going to put a G3X (or its successor, which a little birdie told me is going through certification) and a GFC 500 autopilot. Some people would think I'm absolutely crazy to spend that kind of money upgrading a Cherokee, but the reality is that it's a fantastic little plane that is rock-solid, doesn't have any corrosion, has a great useful load, and I'll probably fly it until the FAA yanks my medical a number of decades from now. If I had any intention of selling her, there is no way in hell I would be paying for all these upgrades!

Each to their own, man, so do what makes you happy and safe in that plane.
 
Not to be crude, but buying avionics with the next buyer in mind is like buying a boob job for your girlfriend with her next boyfriend in mind. Only do that upgrade if you genuinely want/need it for your flying and plan on keeping the plane for a while. Otherwise better to just to sell that bird and try to find one more closely equipped to what you want. As chemgeek said, you'll never recover the financial investment so it's important to come to terms with not rationalizing a "want" as a "smart investment". Something I think every pilot struggles with.

That said, if you love the plane and want to keep it for a while, then go for it. I say this as a guy with a fairly low-time Cherokee 180C (~3000 hrs) who paid $74,000 for the plane and then just spent $55,000 on a full engine overhaul and upgrade (damn you, crankshaft!). Now I'm putting a GNX 375, a GNC 215, and a GI-275 EIS in there, which is going to probably run me about $30,000 installed. In the future, I'm going to put a G3X (or its successor, which a little birdie told me is going through certification) and a GFC 500 autopilot. Some people would think I'm absolutely crazy to spend that kind of money upgrading a Cherokee, but the reality is that it's a fantastic little plane that is rock-solid, doesn't have any corrosion, has a great useful load, and I'll probably fly it until the FAA yanks my medical a number of decades from now. If I had any intention of selling her, there is no way in hell I would be paying for all these upgrades!

Each to their own, man, so do what makes you happy and safe in that plane.

I appreciate the perspective, but disagree a little. I'm not ready to sell the aircraft just yet and it's a nice clean C172N. There's a C172N on TAP with arguably worse avionics than mine for $130K. I would rather not go through the selling/buying process and not know what I may end up, for example your experience with the crankshaft. I could go the cheap route and get a GNC215 and a GPS175 but I'm only saving ~$5K? Why not spend the extra $5K and enjoy it and then the next pilot only has to decide on what NAV/COM they want to install? I still think a GTN650 makes it more attractive for resell - if it comes to that.

I'm not even sure I'm going to sell it. It really depends on what the MOSAIC final rule looks like. It's possible My C172N will be considered a LSA and if that happens it's going to be a tougher decision...
 
Fair enough. There's no wrong answer here, really. Not sure what aircraft prices are going to do. Past performance not guaranteeing future results, and all that. An upgraded panel certainly will make it more attractive. I'm with you on installing the stuff you will enjoy, for sure. Just traditionally, when you account for the installation (and clean-up of the old stuff), it's pretty rare to get anywhere close to getting back your investment.

You raise a good point though. MOSAIC is going to be an interesting factor in the market!
 
it's pretty rare to get anywhere close to getting back your investment.

Absolutely! My angle isn't making money on the upgrade, I'm just thinking all things/trends staying the same, etc, my overall investment, $85K (which actually is $111K adjusted for inflation) will still allow me some room if the market softens and I do sell the aircraft. In other words, if I do the upgrade I don't think I will lose $ I invested on the aircraft.

You raise a good point though. MOSAIC is going to be an interesting factor in the market!

Fingers crossed!
 
It depends upon your money situation.
Don’t anchor to how much already invested.
What do you want to fly with?
 
A little concerned that the AI or HI could tumble tomorrow so a lot of this is trying to be proactive. Removing the vacuum pump is an added plus. I would love to install a GFC500, but if I'm not going to fly IFR I just can't justify it...
If you are going to fly IFR in the future, my vote is start with a pair of GI 275's. Great future-proof foundation to add capability later. Would add substantial value at sale.

If you are VFR only and intend to stay that way, then all of that is overkill. Get a pair of AV-30's, a VFR GPS like an Aera 760, a portable ADS-B In, and a new radio.
 
Considered the G5's but I was told the GI275 was actually a bigger screen and I like the flush look. I'm OK with the extra 1-2 AMU. Agree on the avionics ROI, that was always my thought, but with as much as the airframe/engine has appreciated I will still be in the black if I sell the aircraft later...
The GI275 is the way to go if you have the funds available. Unfortunately, I put in the G5s just before the GI275s came out. But the G5s are great. Almost anything beats the vacuum instruments. My avionics suite is probably worth more than my airframe and engine, but I like the plane, it has a newly rebuilt engine and an all new interior, so why not? IFR is easy-peasy with modern avionics. I still remember NDB approaches, and actually liked them, but they are rare now and really not that useful if you have LPV approaches available.
 
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