Avionics - Speed of Change

Discussion in 'Avionics and Upgrades' started by WDD, Feb 10, 2020.

  1. WDD

    WDD Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Seems like every day there is a new whatnot from Garmin. I've read posts that describe a 3 year old system as "legacy". Garmin 430W's are "ancient".

    Reminds me of the early day's of the PC. Every year something new came out 2X faster, and was the must have. Settled out after a while, and you replace a laptop now just because it's cheaper to than repairing the old one - not that it's that much faster than your old one. Surely this aviaonics upgrade curve will someday be similar.

    It is just a head scratchier that you can spend more $ inside the cockpit than the cost of the plane, and in a few years it's obsolete.

    It's a matter of processing the information, so why not a PC / tablet like device that just has dedicated software that can be updated as needed?
     
  2. chemgeek

    chemgeek Cleared for Takeoff

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    I think the current generation of avionics is pretty much as you describe: small computers whose software can be updated. The problem is that the future desired features, information storage and processing eventually exceeds the capacity of the hardware. I'm amazed that my GNS-430 still works as well as it does. It does have limitations displaying data from my NGT-9000.

    A good example of hardware obsolescence was my old Garmin automobile GPS. It functioned well, but got to the point the memory could no longer hold the entire USA database, nor could it process that data very quickly. I also ditched a tablet I used for an EFB when the memory just filled up with the EFB data and a few other apps. The desire for more data and capability quickly outruns the hardware these days. I've seen this in the science research lab as well. We used to get 10-20 years out of a $100k-$1M instrument. Now, the software goes obsolete in a few years, and the instrument must be retrofitted (if possible) every few years to maintain modern functionality, at exorbitant cost.
     
  3. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    I'm about to install upgraded "ancient" in my airplane.
     
  4. WDD

    WDD Pre-takeoff checklist

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    And it will work great. Where / when is the point of diminishing returns?
     
  5. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I’m over the purchase of the latest and greatest avionics. You can get most of what you need on a tablet.
     
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  6. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    you mean like an iPad with Foreflight?
     
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  7. NordicDave

    NordicDave Cleared for Takeoff

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    In 5-7 years we will see a single 10" PFD/MFD with integrated GPS, Radios, audio panel.
     
  8. WDD

    WDD Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I've wondered something else. Why have separate systems that uses GPS, VOR, DME, ILS, localizer whatnot, etc.? Have the flight computer take input from all sources to give you heading, position, etc.
     
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  9. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route PoA Supporter

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    From the perspective of someone who is currently installing a Garmin G3X system, that would be wonderful. The number of cables required to tie everything together in my system is incredible for a single radio, single IFR gps, single screen system. I swear, the weight of the cables exceeds the weight of the components (well, almost).
     
  10. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    Modularity does have its upsides.
     
  11. farangutan

    farangutan Filing Flight Plan

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  12. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man En-Route

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    I welcome the flow of new products. I think we reached a point 4-5 years ago where there hasn't been a whole lot of advances other than just graphical upgrades. Now if they would do something with the outdated regulations that drives the cost up.
     
  13. Luigi

    Luigi Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Aviation is expensive enough without Garmin planned obsolescence. I have an Aera 560 portable that no longer works, and became obsolete after about a year. Since it cost about 2K, that doesn't bode well for longevity and common dollar allocation sense.
     
  14. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    If it still worked, how does it become obsolete?
    Once they break, they basically become trash. I have the 660 in a panel mount, so upgrading would be a hassle, especially when Garmin likes to change things.
     
  15. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I find it puzzling why installing nearly obsolete equipment should somehow make it not become obsolete just because you installed it. If you installed the latest equipment 3 years ago then It is far from obsolete today. If you installed equipment introduced in the 90s 3 years ago, well then, what were you thinking?
     
  16. Luigi

    Luigi Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The 560 required purchasing a new antenna for XM weather, with the advent of the stratus I found it was more cost effective to purchase a stratus connected to FF on an ipad.
    The 560 was relegated to auto navigation and that soon stopped working. Hence a $2K piece of useless avionics in about 3 years.
    I now use my iPhone for all auto navigation.
     
  17. Domenick

    Domenick Pre-takeoff checklist

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  18. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    And a Tesla Model 3?
     
  19. chemgeek

    chemgeek Cleared for Takeoff

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    How is that? I'm still using an ancient AERA 510 in a ship's power mount. I update the software and database regularly through Garmin, and it provides XM weather through a separate puck mounted on the glareshield. It's a little long in the tooth, but it works. I have it set up to crossfill from my GNS-430W.
     
  20. NordicDave

    NordicDave Cleared for Takeoff

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    Spot on. We get a little bit of a tease from Avidyne with the IFD-550. Nav/Comm, MFD, and partial PFD with AHRS imbedded. If there was a Pitot/Static port the unit in theory could display airspeed and pressure altitude. A pair of units side-by-side is nearly a complete solution. Not too far off.

    Great perspective.

    Easy to imagine the volume of installs greatly increasing with an integrated panel. The panel could be priced 30% more and still be cheaper with reduced labor install & maintenance costs. Manufacture costs would drop and product margins increase to protect dealer profit.

    I've worked on product development in the computer industry in Silicon Valley my whole career. Hyper-converged infrastructure and integration is a common direction for most tech companies. The iPhone is a great example. Not long ago many of us had a camera, GPS for the car, and a phone; some also had a personal organizer like the old Palm Pilot.

    Garmin responded to questions about the GNX-375 (GPS/ADS-B Transponder) and GNC-355 (GPS/Comm Radio), asking why there isn't one unit with transponder/GPS/Radio. The reply was component density is not yet available.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2020
  21. Flybuddy

    Flybuddy Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This is a primary reason why FAA certification of avionics needs to be steamlined. By the time approval happens it might already be antiquated and obsolete.
     
  22. weirdjim

    weirdjim Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I suppose my pair of KX-170s with my RST audio panel is considered obsolete, then?

    Jim :cheerswine:
     
  23. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 Pattern Altitude

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    I still have a 396 panel mounted in my airplane, works just fine. I routinely fly aircraft with radios quite a bit older than I am. You can still fly IFR using 1960s avionics if you want.

    I think with ADS-B and WAAS now becoming commonplace in avionics, the growth curve will slow down significantly. I don't see any new earth shattering technology on the horizon for the FAA and manufacturers, maybe just cleaning up the hardware and software a little to make better us of the systems.
     
  24. Chip Sylverne

    Chip Sylverne En-Route

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    Fear is the poison of our lives.
    I just recently swapped out a GX50 for a Garmin 175, bitching and moaning all the way about how I have to ditch a perfectly good unit. After about 5 hours flying behind the 175, I'm in love. The difference in situational awareness and ease of use is well worth the relatively modest cost of poker. Two generations of avionics may be a relatively short time interval, but covers a long distance in end user experience.

    But yeah, the whole database thing is still a racket.
     
  25. Luigi

    Luigi Pre-takeoff checklist

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    How is that? I'm still using an ancient AERA 510 in a ship's power mount. I update the software and database regularly through Garmin, and it provides XM weather through a separate puck mounted on the glareshield. It's a little long in the tooth, but it works. I have it set up to crossfill from my GNS-430W.

    I was sent a notification that the Aera 560 would not work without purchasing a new antenna (puck) for $350.00 enabling it to receive XM weather. Biggest piece of junk my wife ever bought me! :)
     
  26. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    Be careful what you wish for. They've already issued guidance to fast-track the AML STC process for new avionics installs in Part 23 aircraft along with reducing various other requirements as seen with the changes in the ADS-B OUT installs. And while I agree there is nothing "earth-shattering" equipment or function wise on the horizon, I do suspect the push to make it easier to upgrade avionics in the Part 91 side of GA is to ensure "accommodation" of these aircraft into the NextGen NAS with its expanded PNB routing for airspace use. These GA changes also parallel other regulatory changes to incorporate UAS ops into the overall NAS. The ADS-B OUT requirement was just the first step in bringing Part 91 GA into the fold of NextGen.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  27. NordicDave

    NordicDave Cleared for Takeoff

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    As mentioned earlier, the next frontier is ease of installation. That will come with greater integration. Hard to name any electronics application that has not gotten smaller and more capable over time. Garmin and Dynon both need to take installation cost down to really penetrate the GA legacy fleet. Moving to a fully modern panel costs $100K plus, and over half is needless installation labor creating custom harnesses that would be solved with 100% CAN buss and more capability into single panels.

    Hopefully another player like BK could take a bold move to leapfrog the market technologically for a bolder reentry. ...not holding my breath with BK however.
     
  28. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Lots of upgrades are done piecemeal. A new GPS this year, ADSB before that. A glass display in a couple of years, etc. That is one of many barriers to a highly integrated new system. How many people could really afford to dump $25k or more into the panel in one swell foop.
     
  29. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man En-Route

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    They can’t so a lot of these fancy panels are financed.
     
  30. smv

    smv Line Up and Wait

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    You whippersnappers and all yer glass... ;)

    5258.jpeg
     
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  31. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    Wow, now that's commitment. I feel like a damn interloper in this thing when I hear stuff like that. It's getting harder to relate.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  32. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    Ease of installation could also come from modernization and consolidation of all the different interfaces (RS232, RS422, ARINC429, analog, etc). Would be nice if everything were connected in a star topology (i.e. home run wiring) with only one or two lines for each peripheral.
     
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  33. Arrow76R

    Arrow76R Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Keep the ADF (since the gov. got rid of LORAN there is no other long range nav backup when GPS goes TU)...Keep the Mk 12 (it uses vacuum tubes so when the EMP hits you will still be able to communicate...to someone)
     
  34. NordicDave

    NordicDave Cleared for Takeoff

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    Also in the Summer, it great to listen to the ball game while flying. :7)
     
  35. Flybuddy

    Flybuddy Pre-takeoff checklist

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    "fast-track"....they obviously have a different definition than the rest of us in the order it today get it tomorrow world. I'd rather see "leaps" than steps in the right direction.
     
  36. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    Define "fast" in your world. While the avionics STC guidance is fairly "new" it needed the newer technologies to actually make it feasible. Several avionics OEMs are currently in this process which from what I understand took the former approval process from $$$$$$/3 years down to $$$/1 year which in the aviation world is considered a giant leap AND bound.
     
  37. Chip Sylverne

    Chip Sylverne En-Route

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    Fear is the poison of our lives.
    0
    And supplemental cabin heat in the winter.
     
  38. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    That’s what we call it when we board the airplane, too! :)
     
  39. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    Might?
     
  40. Flybuddy

    Flybuddy Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I agree with you, it's a LOT better than it was but there is room for improvement.