C172 Panel upgrade list…look good?

Discussion in 'Avionics and Upgrades' started by Brian Dilse, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. Brian Dilse

    Brian Dilse Pre-Flight

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    I was on a long, long search for hot-fast-expensive airplane, "near" weather airplane. I looked at SR-22s, Mooneys, Bonzanas, twins all in the 180k-250k price range.

    I was tired of driving, commercial airlines and my VFR Skyhawk that couldn't go anywhere with confidence.

    I wanted a late Spring-Summer-Fall airplane (non TKS) with an autopilot, flight director. Something that is near reliable for person transportation

    With so many unknowns of a new airplane, I was terrified about huge expenses.

    So, I decided to upgrade my trusty 180HP Penn Yan 172M with long rang tanks into an IFR machine.

    My friend's SR22 last annual was $12k. My yearly budget for the Skyhawk for flying 100 hours is $12k including everything!

    Below is a list of items my avionics guy and I priced out. He talked me out of the flight director for synthetic vision with it's flight path guidance to save a bunch of money (Stec 55X prices) We worked really hard to get what I want without too much "want" vs "need"

    $50-55k.

    Aspen PFD Pro w/ Synthetic Vision
    G430W
    G340 Audio panel
    GTX330ES (ADS-B out)
    Stec 30 Autopilot w/ Alt Hold
    FS 450 fuel flow transmitter
    406 ELT
    Stratus2 hard wired for external antenna and power (ADS-B in)
    new fancy aluminum panel with bezel lighting

    notes:
    I opted not to have ADS-B traffic or weather on my Aspen or G430. I saved a couple thousand just using ForeFlight and Stratus2 for ADSB-in

    Keeping for backup #2
    Narco 12D Nav/Comm
    Apollo 55X GPS

    In summary, Some say I'm crazy for putting 55k into a 45k hull. I don't care, its something I will use and I will never sell this airplane.

    With this machine, I'll be able to do most everything a hot airplane can do at a fraction of the cost at 70kts slower. My time isn't worth that much. I'd rather keep a couple thousand bucks and get there three hours later. A 2.5 flight still beats a 7 hour drive.

    Any ideas or opinions?
     
  2. gsengle

    gsengle Pattern Altitude

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    You're crazy. My maintenance on a high performance Mooney has run more like $4,000 a year. Don't use a SR22 as a maintenance benchmark - they are very expensive to maintain. I think you're WAY better off upgrading to a more capable airplane with that money. Here is an example of an insanely more capable airplane for the rough budget...

    https://www.controller.com/listings/aircraft/for-sale/19388929/1986-mooney-m20j-se


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  3. Brian Dilse

    Brian Dilse Pre-Flight

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    Regardless about the choice of aircraft….I'm pretty stubborn about my choice of updating my trusty, known, extremely cost effective Skyhawk. I'm not buying another airplane.

    Anyway,
    Any thoughts or opinions about the panel choice/configuration?
     
  4. Sam D

    Sam D Cleared for Takeoff

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    Welcome to POA. I fly behind an Aspen/430 combo and love it. I also have an engine analyzer and would prioritize this if my plane didn't have one.
     
  5. Brian Dilse

    Brian Dilse Pre-Flight

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    I looked long and hard for the total package engine analyzers (including four probe CHT/EGT)….I opted to just do fuel flow…again, that need/want calculation...
     
  6. DesertNomad

    DesertNomad Pattern Altitude

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    You should really consider selling the 172 and putting the sale price plus the $55k into a much more capable airplane. You could start looking at Mooneys or a Dakota for that kind of money.
     
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  7. Brian Dilse

    Brian Dilse Pre-Flight

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    I hate for the thread to drift to airplane vs. airplane instead of avionics advice

    Tell me what my Skyhawk non-TKS can't do compared to a Mooney non-TKS with the stated above avionics package?

    For my missions, everywhere I want to go is 0-1 fuel stops. 100 hours of travel a year.

    70 kts slower…doesn't matter to me.

    4.5 IFR hour endurance, 500NM

    Penn Yan 180HP Service Ceiling 19,500

    variable costs

    $2.80/hr lubricants
    $11.5/hr engine restoration
    $55/hr fuel

    Fixed costs

    $1200/year annual
    $3000/year hangar
    $350/year Ground & Liability insurance (I assume my own flight risk I'm the only one who flies it)
    $600/year subscriptions, nav data, misc

    The $$ I'm saving pays for a lot more flying.

    I budget about $12000/year for flying a year…for 100 hours…$1.05/mile
     
  8. gsengle

    gsengle Pattern Altitude

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    A couple of things, you may not care.

    Constant speed prop makes for more precise power control, easier to be precise in IMC like when starting down an approach. More fuel efficient. Way faster. More stable in turbulence. You can use it for a commercial rating which is good for your insurance and makes you a better pilot. Retract just looks cool. And you're more likely to recoup a higher percentage of your investment. That's all I can think of.


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  9. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not shabby, just I'd add GPSS to the AP and a engine analyser, I am hesitant to fly night or IMC without a analyser.
     
  10. Brian Dilse

    Brian Dilse Pre-Flight

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    fair enough, but for my missions, I think the Skyhawk will do just fine.

    Constant speed prop..just one more thing to maintain, overhaul..I could put that on a Skyhawk if I choose for the next overhaul.

    Faster…My time isn't worth that much..Perhaps if I made several tips over 750nm+ I could justify a Retract.

    Retract….looks cool, but more expense annuals…It costs money to look cool and go fast…Already have an ATP with oodles of time for insurance…Just the retract alone bumps up insurance quite a bit, regardless of rating/experience

    More fuel efficient? I don't know…perhaps its comparable. In a Mooney I could complete my yearly trips in 75 hours instead of 100….hard to beat $1.05/mile…

    Recoup the avionics upgrade cost? Sure, its worth more in a Mooney, but I'm not selling the Skyhawk…Its a family heirloom of sorts.

    Turbulence…sure, I'll give you that one. Trivial really.

    Mooney would be a great airplane, no doubt. Nothing wrong with a Skyhawk either.

    Anyway, regardless of aircraft type, anything with the avionics package anyone would add/subtract? I'm starting to regret saying it was going to be on a Skyhawk….Lets just say I'm putting this in a Mooney for argument sake.
     
  11. Brian Dilse

    Brian Dilse Pre-Flight

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    GPSS is included on the Aspen…..I thought long and hard about the analyzer…..My local mechanic said it was overkill for an O-360 that runs cool already in a Skyhawk, especially if you cut the oil filter open every 25 hours and look for metal…Still haven't decided yet...
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
  12. Tennis

    Tennis Pre-Flight

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    Yes u r on the right track alway more thing u may want to do enjoy your flying
     
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  13. gsengle

    gsengle Pattern Altitude

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    Oh and I forgot, an attitude rather than a rate based autopilot...


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  14. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    If you're not worried about the loss on resale, go for it. It's your plane, you know it's idiosyncracies.

    Are you paying cash or financing the upgrades? If you bought a plane with all that "stuff", you could use that upgrade cash to pay the monthly note for the more expensive plane (instead of the financial loss).

    Nothing wrong with your plan, as long as you've considered all the alternatives.
     
  15. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Rgr on the GPSS

    But if you're going in the soup, up a night, or over inhospitable terrain, you're going to want a analyser, I wouldn't pay any mind to what your AP says unless he's got a good bit of IMC and night time under his belt, if something is going to go sideways, that analyser will normally let you know before hand, that can be the difference between a precautionary landing and a religious moment.
     
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  16. gsengle

    gsengle Pattern Altitude

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    The GPSS may require another module as well as a software unlock depending on the setup. And +1, an engine analyzer, minimum JPI 730 is a must.


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  17. Brian Dilse

    Brian Dilse Pre-Flight

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    I believe the GPSS is standard equipment with the Aspen PFD pro which includes the ACU module
     
  18. BrianNC

    BrianNC Pattern Altitude

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    Why not the Garmin 650 instead of the 430? That much price difference?
     
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  19. Brian Dilse

    Brian Dilse Pre-Flight

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    About $2,500 more from a bit of shopping around.
     
  20. BrianNC

    BrianNC Pattern Altitude

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  21. Brian Dilse

    Brian Dilse Pre-Flight

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    Great unit, but way outside my budget
     
  22. BrianNC

    BrianNC Pattern Altitude

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    Just trying to help you overspend. :D
     
  23. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'd go navworx if they are back up and running
     
  24. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    If you really like your airplane, you can keep your airplane.

    But I would not classify an engine analyzer as a "want". If you plan to keep this airplane, I think an engine analyzer is a NEED.
     
  25. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I agree...even assuming a family heirloom, the 430w is old-ish, already has memory limitations on the datatbase. With your $50k budget, another $2k is noise for a long-term insurance package.
    I'd also go with the PSI instead of the garmin audio.
     
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  26. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I really enjoy my GTN.
     
  27. Sam D

    Sam D Cleared for Takeoff

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    I'd also probably drop the SV requirement to free up some budget. I've delayed on getting it and have not heard others here who have it refer to it as a must have.

    One more thing: I've got a Stratus 2 and have zero problems with it even though it is not hard wired. Given the rate of change with this technology, I probably would save the $ to wire it up. I also might look into the "Stratux "
     
  28. arnoha

    arnoha Cleared for Takeoff

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    Heck, even the GTN-series is getting long in tooth at this point. Wouldn't surprise me if Garmin is ready with another upgrade inside of the next few years, making the GNS two generations old. Of course, you have to work with what you have actually available now.

    Did you go injected when you did the 180 HP? If so, that other advantage to an analyzer would the be ability to run lean-of-peak if paired with appropriate injectors.
     
  29. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Will be interesting to see what happens. My guess is they are much more interested in expanding their sales to aircraft manufacturers on transport category aircraft rather than making the GTN line obsolete. I would think that the OEM installed avionics suites on biz jets is more profitable than the messing with the small airplane aftermarket retrofits.

    The GTN series were released in 2011.

    The GNS series was released in 1998. The GNS upgrade program to WAAS was announced 2003
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
  30. gsengle

    gsengle Pattern Altitude

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    +1 Stratux


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  31. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Memory limitation?

    You flying a transatlantic bug smasher, that's shooting approaches in diffrent continents on the daily?

    My 530/430 stack holds all the nav data for the US, Canada and Mexico, what are you trying to store HD movies on those cards or something lol
     
  32. Rykymus

    Rykymus Line Up and Wait

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    I'd stick with your plane. You're happy with it, and flying is fun, so what's the point of getting there faster? I find it rather odd that most people on POA will preach "choose a plane that fits your mission" one minute, and the next minute are trying to talk you into more plane than you need for you mission.

    Personally, I'd skip the synthetic vision on the Aspen, and hard-wiring the Stratus. The SV on FF works pretty damned well when combined with the Status, and you can always add the SV to the Aspen later if you really want to. Then I'd spend the savings on the engine analyzer (need, not a want) and possibly the GTN 650 instead of the GNS 430W, if the later can be done while staying within your budget.

    I fly with an STEC 30 w/Alt Hold and like it just fine.
     
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  33. 5QK

    5QK Pre-takeoff checklist

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    What a great thread. Learning a lot
     
  34. Brian Dilse

    Brian Dilse Pre-Flight

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    Luckily my avionics shop still had an Aspen Pro with the free promotional synthetic vision. Add on is about $2200. I believe Aspen occasionally still has promotions to add AOA and SV, with the purchase of a new Pro obviously.
     
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  35. Brian Dilse

    Brian Dilse Pre-Flight

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    I agree. If I don't do it…Murphy will prevail and I wish I had it some dark cold night.
     
  36. gsengle

    gsengle Pattern Altitude

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    It was less about that and more about getting 50 cents on the dollar back or less on what you install. Usually better to be on the other side of that loss/gain. Aka more for your money to buy already installed and *if* you're trading up get a type that best matches the flying you'll do...


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  37. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    One great thing about doing IFR in a Skyhawk. Plenty of time to set up for approaches.
     
  38. Brian Dilse

    Brian Dilse Pre-Flight

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    No its carbureted.
     
  39. arnoha

    arnoha Cleared for Takeoff

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    Huh. GTN's newer than I remember. Thanks for the exact date. And the dev cycle is obnoxiously long, but that I already knew. :(

    Things on my wishlist for a GTN upgrade/replacement:

    * Capacitive multipoint touchscreen
    * Higher resolution. Full HD would be nice, and now very possible given mobile phone tech.
    * Processor upgrade, for faster response on maps. Would definitely be needed if it's got way more pixels to draw.
    * Menu redesign. Makes more sense than a GNS, but still too much messing around to get what you want.

    EDIT: Actually, the box that really needs a resolution upgrade is the Aspen. That's been my main reason for avoiding that for now in my own plane.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
  40. Brian Dilse

    Brian Dilse Pre-Flight

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    Someday my Narco 12D and Apollo GX55 will crunk out…When that day comes, will probably replace with a 650