Aspen Evolution vs Dual Garmin G5's

Discussion in 'Avionics and Upgrades' started by MickYoumans, Jan 31, 2018.

  1. MickYoumans

    MickYoumans Cleared for Takeoff

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    Has anybody seen a head to head comparison of the Aspen Evolution VFR ($4000) vs a dual Garmin G5 setup ($4500) ? The one advantage I see for the Aspen is the software can be upgraded to the IFR Pro version down the road and can also upgrade the software to add synth vision. Is there something the G5's give you that the Aspen does not?

    I was thinking that the Dynon Skyview system was going to be a big game changer for spam cans but when you add up the costs of the pieces and parts of the system with the $2000 STC plus very limited installation locations, I'm wondering if the Aspen is not the best value for a glass panel upgrade.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2018
  2. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Other than IFR instruments for cheap? The GAD29B is basically free GPSS when hooked to an autopilot.

    You need to compare bare bones IFR Aspen to the G5 not the VFR Aspen.

    Next question is nav radio interfaces, does the Aspen come with that or is that an extra box too? The garmin GAD29 is an extra box and money to display navigation information from GarminAvidyne only radios. Aspen will display about any nav radio.

    Aspen and G5s will work with a large array of autopilots but unfortunately they are typically much more expensive to install new than the the new Garmin autopilot GFC500 that will only work with the G5 system.

    I think the G5 displays look better than Aspen.

    G5s do not display overlays like traffic, weather, instrument approach turns etc (basically a moving map) like Asprn

    Aspen has installation approvals for a huge array of aircraft including some helicopters, G5s aren't.

    As far as I know Aspens can only be installed by an Aspen dealer, so my dad would have to pay someone to install it even tho he can buy the G5 kits and I'll install them using my FAA certificates and labor is free.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2018
  3. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    adding to that...

    Aspen has a few more things like it shows wind speed etc, but i dont know if thats built in to the box or if you need a air data computer separately. Dual G5 gives u redundancy, if our Aspen goes puff in IMC, the whole unit is gone, with the revisionary capability and dual battery backup chances of that happening in a Dual G5 set up is almost none.

    dont think G5 and Aspen is a fair comparison, Aspen can expand, G5 cant (as on today, but i am secretly hoping Garmin would announce something this year and its completely possible that a new functionality will come with another G5 unit). i will take the redundancy over map overlay, might not be the case for you.
     
  4. Katamarino

    Katamarino Cleared for Takeoff

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    Aspen is quite an old product, is it not?
     
  5. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Look at the aspen failure mode, if this is a functional not cosmetic upgrade the G5 is really not even in the same ball park as a aspen, frankly I'm amazed that the FAA even allows those aspens to be used in IMC.





    At about 10:50, imagine if these guys were in the middle of the Atlantic and in IMC at the time.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
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  6. CC268

    CC268 Final Approach

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    Garmin is the essence of life. Go Garmin or bust.
     
  7. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    haven't watched the full thing, but was that due to pitot block? if so, I wont blame Aspen for it. but there is some one on this board who have reporting his Aspen failing 7 times or so
     
  8. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    That kinda sounds like some sort of overheating issue. I wonder what plane that was.
     
  9. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A VERY slight block, and as a working single pilot IFR guy I WILL blame them, that is not an acceptable mode of failure, X the airspeed, fine, through a flag, fine, but to fail your primary gyro instruments like that, heck, why not just have it auto shutdown the engine too.
     
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  10. Challenged

    Challenged Pattern Altitude

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    I haven't heard great things about Aspen reliability, but maybe it's a case where you just hear about the bad and never the good. Sure would be exciting to experience a full failure in IMC.
     
  11. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    archer from what I remember.
     
  12. Sam D

    Sam D Cleared for Takeoff

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    What happens with each unit if your pitot tube ices over in IMC?
     
  13. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I have flown IFR with the aspen pro for 18 years without a single problem,have it mated with an Stec 30 and Garmin box’s.i did not purchase the synthetic wisdom fo thecaspen,not worth the 1600.00 when you have I pad and stratus 2.
     
  14. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Cleared for Takeoff

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    From Steve @ Garmin:
    "The G5 design incorporates hardware and software which make it independent and dissimilar to many ADAHRS designs. For example, one of the design goals was for the G5 to be tolerant of blocked pitot and static ports, so gyro aiding from air data is secondary to GPS data and isn't important unless GPS is lost. Even given the importance of GPS data to the highest level of performance for the G5, the DO-334 degraded performance flight tests, which take over two hours to fly, are passed with no GPS data being provided to the G5."
     
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  15. CC268

    CC268 Final Approach

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    Garmin 4 lyfe
     
  16. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That answered that question.

    G5 hands down over the aspen
     
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  17. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    I didn't know that. Thanks.

    Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
     
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  18. Sam D

    Sam D Cleared for Takeoff

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    Thanks for posting that. I knew that, with a blocked pitot, you loss attitude on the Aspen but not the G5, but didn't know why. That being said, I'm a happy Aspen user (with a backup vacuum system!)
     
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  19. MajorTurbulence

    MajorTurbulence Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I am another happy Aspen owner.

    I too was unhappy about the failure of all attitude functionality with iced up pitot systems. I believe that this is a function of all EFIS systems and its need to crosscheck data.
    The G5 is not an EFIS, which, to my understanding is both good and bad. Good in that it acts like any backup AH, or DG/HSI with some extra sensor functionality. Maybe not as good if you want to increase your panel capability by adding stormscope, weather, traffic or SV data on the display.
     
  20. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A real professional grade EFIS built for real IMC doesn't fail everything because of a little ice on a pitot.

    And again, adding all these whiz bang things like traffic, pointless of its added onto a foundation that will completely fail at its one real and true job for the smallest thing.
     
  21. MajorTurbulence

    MajorTurbulence Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Do you know of any "EFIS" that won't behave the same as the Aspen with an iced pitot?
     
  22. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You hit the nail on the head, there is a difference between a "EFIS" and a EFIS.

    With a real one, the ones you're going to see in a king air/PC12/most any type cert plane, even the little G5s and many of the experimental glass panels, if they caught a bug in the pitot or something you really think it would just X out all their gyros?


    I mean think of the stupidity in that design, so you have a pitot problem, so let's also shoot that approach to minims with pax onboard, zero gyros now too? It's like having a flap motor failure also shut off the engine, or de activate the gear. Designing one part of a system to take out multiple different systems when it fails is stupid every day of the week and twice on Sunday's, it should X the airspeed and maybe toss a flag to cross check, but taking out the gyros takes a safety related malfunction and makes it a whole lot more dangerous.


    Again, those aspens are pretty with lots of stuff to impress your friends, but I don't think they are good for people who actually are going to rely on the thing anymore than they would rely on a iPad and portable AHRS, it's not something that should be used at all in IMC
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
  23. MajorTurbulence

    MajorTurbulence Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I think you missed the point of my question. I don't know what a "professional grade" EFIS is. I had thought that all EFISs that are FAA approved meet the same certification standards. I have no direct experience, but I thought that G1000s or G500s behaved the same way with pitot blockage. The G5, and other electronic or electric, or even vacuum driven AIs are different, and do serve as an excellent backup in the case loss of pitot input. As I wished the Aspen could act in this way, I also think that this may be a deficiency of any EFIS. It is the reason you must have a backup attitude source with an EFIS, even in your jet. Those owners of other EFIS displays, please chime in to resolve this misunderstanding.
     
  24. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A professional grade EFIS is a chevy product. :)

    Anyway, the certification standards are not identical for all aircraft. Gross weight comes into the standards and I've heard that is why the G5 will not be certified for aircraft over ? 6,000 pounds. Certification for helicopters is different from fixed wing. I'm sure balloons have their standards too but not sure EFIS comes into play. ;)
     
  25. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    James is an expert avionics engineer, and offers strong opinions on avionics.

    I personally couldn't come to any real conclusion about the nature of that Aspen failure in that video. It seemed too "Hollywood" to me.
     
  26. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    I was talking about this with my avionics guy today, he said dynon uses the technology and is prone to same pitot failure. As far as I was told, in G1000 if the pitot fails, there would be a red X on the airspeed. In fact I have done partial panel with G1000 where Garmin makes a placard with attitude and airspeed failure but operational DG.

    Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
     
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  27. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Lol, who cares what a engneer in a office thinks, this is the same thing as asking a A&P about how to fly. You don't want a engneer to design a plane, no, I don't care where a engneer thinks the stick should be, or how it should look on the display as you shoot a ILS, you want a working pilot to give the master vision on these things, then the engineers figure out how to make that happen. Stick to your speciality.

    Again, I'll ask the person who's saddling up and launching into low IFR how the thing SHOULD work, then it's a engineers job to figure out how to MAKE IT WORK like that.

    I only offer my opinion as a working single pilot IFR dude who flys at all hours and does so in some pretty harsh weather.

    Personally, I wouldn't use any EFIS that operated like that in IMC.

    Heck I'd rather launch into LIFR with a traditional old school six pack, at least with a pitot failure I can still fly known numbers off my power and attitude settings and I don't have to fly off a compass, with GPS I can also loosely reference my GS, how sad when ones $20k+ "upgrade" turns out to be a downgrade.

    Sucks about the dynon, I didn't know they had the same unsafe failure mode, guess I'll scratch the skyview off my list :(
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
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  28. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    Well, i would verify the dynon design with someone else as well. If its true, then it's no point actually. I do like the dynon concept...but again piece meal works better for my pocket right now

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  29. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    You misunderstand what EFIS stands for. It's merely a presentation and information integration standard (electronic display, consolidated information presentation, sometimes all-in-one display, sometimes multiple display units). It has nothing to do with the internal technology that provides you with attitude data.

    Basically, there's a fundamental difference between attitude deriving instrumentation, and direct rate instruments. Most glass GA offerings are are attitude-deriving. This means that they back-solve the attitude by solving equations of motion in 3 axis by the use of MEMS-based accelerometers.

    The problem is they don't have a datum for the gravity vector. That is back-solved by the use of a 4th variable, airspeed in this case. Without the use of airspeed, they suffer from large erroneous depictions. These GA offerings get around that by using pitot airspeed inputs. Absent that, they use GPS ground speed as a third best (introducing more error than with pitot airspeed).

    As predicted, when they lose that input data, it's buckle up Johnny because garbage in = garbage out. Some go into degrade mode and X out the lost input (Garmin offerings). Others like the Aspen (and Dynon I believe), X out the whole entire presentation, which as has been highlighted by others, it's wholly unacceptable for IMC operations. Of course the STC for the Aspen prescribes the retaining of a backup (a mechanical gyro is a robust alternative, as it is not attitude-deriving), so this isn't necessarily a problem. But it does mean that it is not an instrument to the degree that professional suites are.

    So what exactly make professional suites different you ask? Direct indication instrumentation. The classic one you already know: the trusty mechanical gyro. Modern instruments in the electronic realm (EFIS or not) rely on Ring-Laser-Gyros (RLG) to provide direct angle rate information, precession-free, in order to provide you with attitude information. We all know of the failure modes of mechanical gyros, including their degradation due to bearing wear friction. A ring laser gyro otoh is an electro-optical instrument; no mechanical wear exists inside the sensing loop. In some military applications, these sensors are even EMP hardened on top of it.

    Hopefully this helps you understand the differences in these instruments.
     
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  30. Baron62

    Baron62 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Hindsight- Nice job describing the functionality.

    Does someone sell a portable GPS antenna that can plug into the back of the G5? I am having a G5 HSI installed now and will be relying on the GTN. If 12VDC power goes out it sounds like the G5 with no GPS antenna would also rely on the airspeed.

    Just found my answer for $99. GA™ 26C low-profile remote antenna. Runs on a lower voltage to minimize battery drain. Two mounting options include magnetic mount for the outside of your vehicle or vessel and suction mount for the inside of your windshield or window, 8 ft (2.4 m) of cable and a BNC connector.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
  31. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    There is an internal antenna in G5. Someone here recommended rigging up one, I forget the model number, that's an external GPS antenna by Garmin that u can use with portable devices. I don't think it's allowed in the STC though. Garmin also sells an external one for G5. I was told it would cost about 700 or so installed. I passed

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  32. MajorTurbulence

    MajorTurbulence Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That was a very excellent explanation.

    So, in the case of the Garmin EFISs, when they lose the pitot airspeed input, they X out that input, as you have explained, and they use the gps groundspeed to back solve the gravity vector with an associated increased error.

    Are you including the electronic G5, or even the Sandia units, in the discussion of EFISs as relying on gps groundspeed when airspeed data is missing, or do they avoid using computation for the gravity vector in some other way? For some reason, I did not think of these in the EFIS category as they could not be considered primary for Attitude, but ok as the technical backup in IFR, even if they were placed at the top of the six pack. I guess requiring a backup AI by STC for the Aspen amounts to the same thing.

    I have a renewed respect for the mechanical gyros, whether vacuum or electric, given their lower cost and direct attitude readings not requiring computation of a gravity vector. If only they were more reliable, especially in the case of the vacuum instruments and its related vacuum pump.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
  33. NordicDave

    NordicDave Line Up and Wait

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    Sandia Quattro 340 has a degradation feature which closely approximates missing inputs. Great little EFIS and one of the few certified as a back-up instrument for other EFIS panels.

    Comparing Aspen to a pair of G5's, My local Av shop said the Aspen is like 50% more install time. The screen resolution is also not as crisp. Like said earlier... it's an old product ripe for revision.
     
  34. Ryan F.

    Ryan F. Line Up and Wait

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    I've compared the Aspen to the G5s fairly extensively. As some may be aware I already have the G5 ADI and I'm slated to install the G5 HSI along with GAD29B in March.

    The failure mode issue is significant. Without two Aspens, you're looking at a screen failure knocking out all of your primary flight instruments (assuming you replaced them with the Evolution EFD1000). And as noted here an invalid ADC input has the potential to brick one, two, or all of your displays, assuming that input is shared across the units (pitot for example.)

    Dual G5s are a simpler, less feature-rich product, but frankly that is best viewed as a strength when you consider the kinds of airplanes these units are being installed in, and the mission applications they might encounter. They are very robust; their reversionary mode, though manual, is completely independent; and the user is required to keep ASI, ALT and VSI (if installed) along with a backup AI or TC.

    They are extremely reliable, very easy to use, and supported by Garmin, who isn't going anywhere.

    That alone was enough to sway me to Garmin over Aspen, but there are other reasons, too.

    • In terms of out-the-door-price, it's really not a quick and straightforward comparison between Aspen and dual G5s. Aspen sells lots of upgrades and modules, including AP interfaces, and those modules and interfaces are generally quite expensive unless they're being offered on special. And the VFR version of the Aspen at $4,000 is probably a little below the dual G5's total package featureset; you have to bump up to the EFD1000 software ($10,000 total, approx.) to really compare them. The EFD1000 package turns the Aspen into a more feature-rich competitor, with various enhancements such as HSI overlays and etc. The VFR-only version doesn't even include an HSI, and, well, it's for VFR. Not very useful for most of us considering this product. So you really need to compare the EFD1000 to the G5s. That's more like $10k hardware vs. $5k hardware.
    • But that's without Aspen's EA100 autopilot interface which is a whopping $2500 vs. the GAD29B from Garmin, which is $700. The installation price also seems to favor the G5s, as Aspen-authorized vs. Garmin-authorized seems to be two different price points in my experience.
    • You can install the G5s as your budget allows. I did the ADI to see how I liked the hardware, and about a year later I'm doing the HSI. It's nice to break up the installation costs.
    • Finally, the G5s are designed to work with the GFC500 autopilot. If you're fortunate enough to get your aircraft added to Garmin's AML, this alone is easily worth going the G5 route. This is going to be THE autopilot to get, and the G5s drive it. You're talking vertical nav, altitude preselect, flight director, ESP, the works. For $6k!
    When I did this calculus early on my reaction was to be very concerned for Aspen's well-being, not to mention their ability to support their customer base into the future. Aspen's product line is old; other than some software modules and upgrades being released for the EFD1000, this is a product which received its FAA certification in 2008 and hasn't been touched since.

    In my view Aspen either needs to release a new product with groundbreaking new features for a compelling price (which is only possible if that product has been in R&D this whole time) or drastically reduce the price of the EFD1000. I'm not talking a $4k VFR-only product, I'm talking a $5-6k totally loaded EFD1000 and a $700 EA100 AP interface, and even then I'm not sure it's really worth throwing your eggs in Aspen's basket.

    They have to compete with Garmin, who has built an entire ecosystem of low-cost, ultra-capable products for the GA fleet. EVERYONE is going to want a Garmin panel. I've built mine around a GTN650, GTX345, dual G5s and, eventually, the GFC500 autopilot. It's going to maintain the highest residual value possible for your airplane and give you the biggest bang for the buck.

    So when you look at the whole package, don't get distracted by a handful of features the Aspen has today which dual G5s don't. They're pretty minor things, really; format changes, overlays on the HSI, that sort of thing. Stuff I don't use anyway to be perfectly honest.

    Look at the big picture, and it's a pretty compelling argument to stick with Garmin. That's my .02.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
  35. MickYoumans

    MickYoumans Cleared for Takeoff

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    Ryan's argument is pretty compelling. I too have a GTN650/GTX345 in my radio stack. I had not seen any head-to-head comparisons of the two systems (Aspen vs G5) and wanted to get the knowledge and experience from actual users here. The Aspen does have expanded capability but they do seem to want a premium price for it and old hardware. Right now everything is in such a state of flux with new STC's on lower cost avionics that I'm thinking it is probably worth sitting tight for a little while longer to see where the dust settles. The GFC500 autopilot has my attention right now since my plane does not currently have an AP and the GFC500 looks like possibly the best option in the near future. I'm pretty sure my airplane will be on their STC list soon. I appreciate all of the replies to my post and the information provided.
     
  36. MajorTurbulence

    MajorTurbulence Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The only objective correction I would make to this post is that Aspen's EA100 at $2500 is not something you need if you retained your vacuum AI to drive your legacy autopilot. The EA 100 would enable you to ditch the AI and use the Aspen AI for the attitude inputs. The Aspen's HSI already is compatible without any adapter to interface with many autopilots.

    The G5, on the other hand, would need the GAD29B at $700 just to connect its HSI to a legacy autopilot, if supported. The G5 also has no adapter at all for the AI to supply attitude input to your autopilot, if needed.

    But regarding your vacuum AI, that many people would like to ditch, you will need another AI source by STC with the Aspen, and another to fly IFR with the G5, so you might as well keep it as your backup, and if it's also needed for your autopilot, then no adapters to consider.
     
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  37. Ryan F.

    Ryan F. Line Up and Wait

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    Thanks for the response. Well, if you want to get into the details, let's get detailed -- and watch the picture worsen for Aspen. The Aspen PFD gets really expensive when you dive in.

    • For attitude-based APs relying on the legacy ADI (both the Aspen and the G5 example would be the same in your scenario), sure, as you said the units are equal, in that both units would simply rely on pre-existing hardware.
    • For HSI, the GAD29B provides a significant advantage in that older autopilots are granted GPSS via "heading" mode right out of the box - score one for the G5s. That's a big-time upgrade for legacy autopilots. That's an impressive upgrade for $700 plus installation.
    • So let's try upgrading the Evolution VFR to Pro (total: $10,995) and then add in the following:
      • Synthetic Vision: $2995
      • AOA: $1995
      • Hazard Awareness: $895 (this is just a software interface kit for WX-500 and etc... the capability is already there, but as is normal for Aspen, you have to pay to unlock it!)
      • S-TEC autopilot integration kit - $1995 (so your statement that any autopilot will work is partially correct, but to truly 'unlock' the capability of the S-TEC line, you have to buy this software upgrade) or...
      • S-TEC 55X autopilot integration kit - $2995 (!!)
      • XM weather receiver - $2495 (this still requires the Hazard Awareness software upgrade for $895, or you can buy a bundle for $2995 for a small savings)
      • EA100 adapter for autopilots is $2795 (price is higher than I thought, previously I recall it being $2495)
      • Altitude preselect system - $1495 (for KFC200 only)
    Now, my point isn't to drag the Aspen down with all of these upgrades, because there's more there than most would bother with or even possibly be able to use, but it only takes one or two of them to make the Aspen's total cost skyrocket. Certainly to make the Aspen function as a reasonable "control head" ala the G5 with the GFC500 you'd need the integration kit for the 55X which is $2995 or the EA100 for other APs. The price becomes totally unmanageable very quickly as the upgrade path gets more involved and labrynthine.

    Meanwhile, the G5s are very simple: buy two G5s. Buy a GAD29B if you need it. Hook it up to a GTN or GNS series Navigator, which are the most popular IFR Navigators on the market, and you've got GPSS with most legacy autopilots. When the GFC500 comes out, you have half the costs of the system already covered and all you need to buy is the $6k autopilot itself. Boom... you're done.

    And by the way, Garmin has steadily been software upgrading the G5s since they came out... free of charge.

    Aspen can only compete if they make radical price cuts, but they seem unwilling to do that. Until that happens, the G5s are going to cut deeply into Aspen's bottom line.
     
  38. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Cleared for Takeoff

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    Ryan,
    Have you heard that they will allow the 500 for your plane? I can't get a real answer from Garmin but it seems they were leaning to not STC twins for the 500. I'd suggest they'd make way more money allowing the 500 on the twins that allow the G5 (un-pressurized/less than 6000lbs). Most smaller light twin drivers aren't excited to dump 30+K on the 600 but would install the 500, myself included. Thoughts?
     
  39. Ryan F.

    Ryan F. Line Up and Wait

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    Ryan Ferguson 1974
    Yes, I've got it on decent (not great) authority at this point that the PA-30 will be included by 2019, although the PA-24 (single-engine Comanche) has yet to be added, ironically. This is not substantiated, and one has to consider the possibility that any airplane not yet on the AML may not find its way there. However, I think Garmin will add quite a few.

    The PA-30 is only a 3600 lb. twin so to me it makes sense that the GFC500 AML would include it, but we'll see.
     
  40. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Cleared for Takeoff

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    I hope it works out for you. In my mind if they are able the PA-30, I'd think a NA 310 wouldn't be outside the realm as well but it is a bit heavier.