Low Time Engine vs. Updated Panel

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by bgreenhaw, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. bgreenhaw

    bgreenhaw Filing Flight Plan

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    When considering an aircraft purchase, would you rather go with a lower time engine (< 200hr SMOH on a 2000hr TBO) with an OK panel and avionics package OR a middle-of-the-road time engine (700-900hr SMOH on a 2000hr TBO) and a more kick-a$$ panel? Both about the same $ purchase price.
     
  2. Apache123

    Apache123 Line Up and Wait

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    Hey, Steve!
    I'd definitely go with the mid-time engines. Statistically you have a greater chance of engine failure in those first 200 hours than you do until well beyond TBO.
     
  3. JHW

    JHW En-Route

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    Depends on what you want. The 200 hour engine is past infant mortality. If it was OH'd with new cylinders and you aren't going to drop a bunch of cash on radios either way, then go for the newer engine. OTOH if you can't live without big screen TV's in the panel then that's what you'd better buy because it will be a lot pricier to get them new.
     
  4. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It's a combined exercise in value and probability. The decision-making process will in likelihood be more complex depending the type of engine (one that will typically require a mid-life top) and whether the panel is really tricked out with the latest stuff vs. just a 530-430 yada-yada.

    You can probably assume the avionics will last for a typical ownership period without spending much (if any) additional money, but engine life is more difficult to predict.

    I'd start by listing the cost (to me) of each element of the package if I bought them today, but wouldn't use new avionics prices if used units are available since they're all basically the same.
     
  5. rbridges

    rbridges En-Route

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    kick ass panel. 5-700 hrs is probably an $8k swing (depending on engine) in wear and tear. You'd have a hard time installing a garmin 430 for 8 grand. auto pilot, IFR GPS, radios cost big bucks.
     
  6. N747JB

    N747JB Final Approach

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    Both planes have used engines, right? Will the 200 hour one go longer without needing major maintenance, probably. Will the 800 hour engine need major maintenance soon, maybe, maybe not. Would you upgrade the panel in the 200 hour engine one? If so, take your estimated avionics upgrade price and add 50% to get the "cost" of both planes. ;)
    Avionics upgrades almost always cost more than you think going in, fix this while we've got it open, you might as well updgrade the audio panel and intercom to hear the new radios better, the autopilot needs "tweeking" etc, etc. :hairraise:
     
  7. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Avionics are rapidly changing, and prices are dropping. In five years, we will be laughing out loud at Garmin 530s, as if they were Narco Superhomers.

    Go with the low time engine.
     
  8. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Will the Garmins be any less functional then? Will they still talk to the A/P and take you where you want to go? Will the install cost of a future unit be any less than the existing units? I think you have it backwards.

     
  9. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Bull****. A 530W will still cost you well over $10k to buy and install, and I don't see the 650/750/next gen stuff getting well below that for the certified folks.

    600 hours on a typical 6 cylinder overhaul cost represents about $10k on a TBO, and less if you have a 4 or can do a cheaper overhaul or go past TBO. WAAS is the best goody for a while, and ADS-B will be another requirement in the not-so-distant future.
     
  10. tmyers

    tmyers En-Route

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    I am looking at a panel upgrade at about $35K and an engine R&R plus rebuild at about $30K. I would go with the panel cause you will typically buy that for between 50 and 75% of what it would cost you to do it after purchasing the airplane.

    Is my math fuzzy?

    PS: I didn't buy the panel I really wanted and now it is gonna cost me.
     
  11. rwellner98

    rwellner98 Line Up and Wait

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    I help with our flying club and several friends have bought planes outside the club recently as well. This is a topic we analyzed.

    Our result was that engine values are very well understood. To the point that VREF calculates them and you, as a consumer, don't have to worry about spending too much of a premium anywhere in the normal lifecycle of an engine.

    However, avionics generally add about half their install price to the value of the plane.

    So if you are only looking at the economics of the purchase, buying something with a higher time engine with the panel you want already installed is a much better value. You will be getting the avionics for about half price and the engine for its true value.

    Edit: I see now that Tim gave essentially the same answer already. Our research backs up his findings.
     
  12. Jeff K

    Jeff K Pre-takeoff checklist

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    He doesn't.

    The idiom of buying the avionics you need with the plane is starting to melt as the complexity increases and service life decreases. You can get parts for that 48 year old Lycoming and have alot of choices to rebuild it. That 10 year old Garmin? We already are seeing displays being unobtainable after 10 years and in Garmin's case, correct me if I'm wrong, they only allow themselves/their dealers to work on it. The first WAAS GPS (GNS480/CNX-80) came out in 2003 and Garmin discontinued it 5 years later. AFAIK, the last firmware update for it came out in Jan of 2010 (V2.3 and I'm sure someone will correct me if I missed one. Yet since then the GPS IIF block has started to go up with a new signal).

    But let's compare dollars.

    I can get a 10 year old GNS-480 for about $6K. $2K to put it in if I have a CDI with will work. Let's budget $500 for mistakes. Come to a GTN-650... $10,500 or so for the unit. $2K to install, the same $500... and also have a CDI that will work. $13K.

    You got the install for "free" so you are looking at a value of $6K on the 10 year old GPS vs. $13K for brand new GPS. So the question then becomes is that 10 year's of life worth ~$7k?

    But wait... there's more.

    An IFR GPS is of no value without a current database. Already we are seeing databases being discontinued. The Northstar M3 IFR GPS was released in 1995... and databases updates stopped being released in 2009. converting them into door stops. That's a 14 year run if you bought it when it first came out.

    I'm perfectly fine with a 48 year old autopilot... in fact I have one and it works quite well (in heading mode). But once you start throwing single source consumer displays at electronics... and require ongoing support from the manufacturer in the form of firmware and database updates... that window is very short.

    BTW to the OP... you can do a heck of alot of IFR flying with a VFR GPS and requesting radar vectors (to be legal) with just a "pin" VOR on the end with a traditional approach. Now to be clear... those days are quickly coming to an end with more and more VOR's being retired, but you won't be grounded for some time. I always go with the most mechanically sound plane... don't overvalue that 5-10 year old GPS in particular if you are going to hold the plane for more then 10 years. Chances are you'll end up replacing it anyways if history tells us anything.
     
  13. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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  14. Greg Bockelman

    Greg Bockelman Administrator Management Council Member

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    Panel. But it depends on the panel.

    I think it would cost more to put in a killer panel than it would to OH an engine.

    Worth exactly what you paid for it.
     
  15. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Go with the panel if its really loaded,an upgrade panel for a 180 piper ran a friend 46k last overhaul I had on an arrow ran 16 k .the panel has a530 was,aspen,stec30 w/alt hold,GPS steering.treat your engine right you will probably go to TBO or better.
     
  16. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    What do you say to all the owners that are still flying around with KLN-90B navigators? Why are you using the step-child orphan 480 that Garmin inherited and competed against as the model?

     
  17. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    What do you say to all the owners that are still flying around with KLN-90B navigators? Or old Garmin panel-mounts? Why are you using the step-child orphan 480 that Garmin inherited and competed against and then discontinued as soon as they could as the model?

     
  18. Tony_Scarpelli

    Tony_Scarpelli Pattern Altitude

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    I'd need to know the eninge and exact composition of the panel even then it is more personal to your mission.

    If you are a VFR pilot not planning on getting IFR rated then what use do you have for a kick ass panel.

    On the other hand, if the engine is one that I thought I could fly 500 hrs past TBO and I could have things in the panel I want like fancy autopilot not just wing levelr....
     
  19. JHW

    JHW En-Route

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    GNC300 in my panel. Doesn't even have a map. I hope I can find my way home this weekend.
     
  20. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    Go for the panel. Much cheaper to get it already installed than install yourself. The engine is much more perishable and as such loses value quicker IMO. Conversely, it can be undervalued if you fly a lot and thus the insistence on TBO as a benchmark for replacement generally overestimates cost for these engines. the avionics are a lot sticker in price. I'm still waiting for the 430 to be as cheap as a KLN89B.....any day now...
     
  21. poadeleted21

    poadeleted21 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Price out a decent panel with say, an ASPEN, GNS530W, STEC 55X, some sort of Garmin transponder and maybe an SL30 Nav/Comm.... it'll probably be about two overhauls worth of $.
     
  22. tmyers

    tmyers En-Route

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    When that happens I have an 89B I would gladly trade for a 430:yes::yes:
     
  23. Jeff K

    Jeff K Pre-takeoff checklist

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    What do I say?

    Does anyone still make CRT's? Better hope you can find old stock if that custom CRT takes a dive.

    You'll need WAAS for the ADS-B mandate.

    Because for the ADS-B mandate you'll need a WAAS GPS and the 480 is the oldest GPS that supports WAAS. As to your question, for the bolded reason you stated. Because they discontinued it for marketing reasons. The 430W wasn't much better, discontinued in December of 2012 which was only 6 years after the 430W was first released. Are you *really* going to trust a manufacturer on a complicated piece of equipment, that requires regular firmware/database updates, to NOT try and drive the market like this? And what about when Garmin is bought by the Chinese?

    And if you can't deal with Garmin, then what about the Northstar M3 example I gave? Best case if you purchased it, a 14 year run before it was scrap. And what about Trimble and Morrow? I'm just not going to assign alot of value to a non-WAAS 10+ year old GPS like the two examples you gave.

    The old idiom of buying the avionics you need with the plane is fading.. simply because the shelf life is being reduced so quickly... be it single source consumer components, firmware/database updates, exclusive maintenance restrictions (Garmin) or marketing dirty tricks to drive new products.

    So no... I'm not suggesting staying with steam gauges... just a little common sense to not overvalue that 5-10 year old glass panel. If you are going to hold an airplane for any period of time (lets say over 5 years).. and need a GPS... IMHO you are alot better off going with a new install of a unit that has been out less then 2 years... like a GTN650 or GTN750 OR with a very recent glass panel. That way the cost can be amortized over the entire life of the product and you stand alot better chance of getting customer support. It's just hard to see into the future in this field too far ahead.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2013
  24. Jeff K

    Jeff K Pre-takeoff checklist

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    "Due to decreasing demand and limited parts availability, Garmin USA and Garmin Australia will no longer accept orders for new GNS 530W and GPS 500W series products beginning November 30, 2011"

    http://en.sa-maintenance.com/Garmin-GNS-n78m84

    BTW, the GTN-650 actually has a higher pixel count then the GNS530W.
     
  25. JimNtexas

    JimNtexas Pattern Altitude

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    I fly an 89B, I was talking to a friend who had one in his Mooney. One day his display died and he was able to replace the 89b with a KLN-94, which he said is a much better unit, and was a cheap plug-n-play replacement for the 89.
     
  26. JimNtexas

    JimNtexas Pattern Altitude

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    We can't answer unless we know more about how you are going to use your plane.

    In particular how many hours a year do you anticipate flying and how much IFR?

    If there are ten of you flying one plane, and most are vfr I'd go with the newer motor.

    If you will be the sole pilot and don't plan on flying more than 100-150 hours a year then I'd go with the better panel and mid-time motor.
     
  27. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Availability of used units at lower prices or new plug-and-play that utilize existing installation hardware and wiring has obviously escaped JK's analytical scope.

     
  28. N747JB

    N747JB Final Approach

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    I've got a 530W in the 182 and a 650/750 in the Conquest, I think I prefer the 530W to the 650, but certainly not to the 750! I will admit I don't use the 650 as much, but I do like the functionality of the 530 better so far.;)
    Speaking of data base updates, Garmin isn't too bad, I get the G600, 650/750 with charts on the 750 for $9xx something per year!
     
  29. Jeff K

    Jeff K Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not at all... I ran the numbers.... the GNS-480 is the best used WAAS integrated
    unit on the market from a cost/value perspective as long as you don't consider the risk of being cutoff from service/database/firmware support... which also may eventually impact the 430W as well. But I wouldn't buy either (used) over a new GTN-650 simply because I'm giving up service life and taking undo risk that the database/firmware support will be discontinued.

    As to these "plug and play" units that use a existing installation hardware.... where can I buy one today? If you are talking about Avidyne... that's at least a year away according to what they told me at Oshkosh last month. But this brings up a really good point since your are a Garmin fan. Exactly why isn't the GTN-650 rack compatible with the 430W? Can you really trust these vendors not to play marketing dirty tricks?

    Wayne you just can't ignore the market place or bury your heard in the sand with regards to technology. I can take my 48 year old Lycoming engine to any AP and they can fix it for me and get parts. I won't be able to say that 42 years from now Wayne about the 430W or if history holds, likely even 10 years from now.

    You've got to consider this when buying those 10+ year old GPS'es you are advocating. The service life is short compared to our engines. You've got to amortize the cost, if history holds, over a 10-15 year time period. The WAAS ADS-B mandate throws yet another monkey wrench in the works.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2013
  30. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    What's the anticipated ownership life for a GA plane?

    How predictable are FAA equipment mandates?

    How can you ignore the reality of the currently installed base of panel-mount equipment (of which navigators are only a portion) and claim to have "run the numbers" when it's clear to anybody who understands the game that you haven't?

    What percentage of avionics units have been scrapped for lack of parts/service?

    How can you possibly think that you can accurately assess the future repairability aspects of current equipment?

    The question is not whether engine repairs will be necessary, it's whether the owner economics favor panels over engines. What is the hourly decrease in book value based on engine time? What is the decrease based on avionics time?

     
  31. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    How long do you realistically expect to own the aircraft? How many engine hours do you think you'll be putting on it? If you intend to own it past year 2020 (and probably even as few as 5 years from now) you'll find you'll almost certainly have to put ADS-B in it if it doesn't already have it. And I expect no matter how fancy the avionics is now it is probable that the kick-ass avionics plane will not have ADS-B installed, so you'll need to have it installed.

    Most aircraft owners are going to find they have to install ADS-B to fly where they like, and therefore will have to install a GPS receiver, into their airplane by 2020 (only 7 years away.)

    If it were me and I intended to hold onto the aircraft past 7 years, I'd pick whatever looked cheaper to install ADS-B into. If the kick-ass avionics isn't kicky enough there is a possibility of finding yourself with an expensive redundancy in the GPS department. Can the existing GPS be tied to an ADS-B transceiver to lower its install cost a bit?

    One other mid to long term affect on value/cost is the Small Airplane Revitalization Act of 2013 (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr1848/text) which passed the U.S. house in July. Have no idea where it is at in the senate. It would allegedly require the FAA to change small aircraft certification in Part 23 to consensus standards like those used for LSAs and performance-based regulations. In theory firms like Dynon that only cater to the experimental market would find it less burdensome to move into the certified market. And therefore new and used avionics would decline in dollar value.
     
  32. Jeff K

    Jeff K Pre-takeoff checklist

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    7 open ended questions in one response? Good gosh Wayne, you must have been the ban to your kindergarten teacher.:D I'm sure you think these are rhetorical questions you are asking but I'll address them anyways.

    I think the average age of the fleet is 40+ years.

    http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/air_cer...craft/media/aging_aircraft_best_practices.pdf

    Pretty predictable and accelerating. In that time period of 40 years we've seen a whole class of Com radios outlawed, ELT's going from 121mhz to 40omhz, NDB's being retired whole sale, Mode C mandates, VOR's starting to bite the dust now, GPS now going to WAAS, ADS-B etc.

    Yet in that 40 year old plane... there is a good chance it's got the exact same engine core yet the electronics have been replaced 3 times over.

    So I'm putting a service life of 10-15 years on something that has a fancy display and requires firmware/database updates to remain viable.

    Well, will that party please step forward because I'm not talking to him. Or did I miss the BSEE/PE after your name?


    Wayne, I own a consulting firm that design's electronics/firmware/products. I've also run and started a number of high tech product based start up companies. Technology is accelerating, and between proprietary firmware, database updates, SMD technology and single source repair agreements... it's not the same world you grew up in.

    I wish Avidyne well... because the biggest threat we face is Garmin's marketing practices. There simply was no reason for the 650 to not be tray compatible with the 430W... as best I can tell the only difference being they have a serial number EEPROM on the 650's tray... which is designed to squeeze the last penny out of the user, since apparently some FBO's where sharing their 430W between airframes.


    Sigh.... more rhetorical questions Wayne, just make a statement of fact/opinion. It's saves alot of time.

    None-the-less, I think we are saying the same thing.... just arriving at different conclusions. Devices with displays/firmware/databases come to the end of their service life quite quickly. Yet 10 years later, I've got a residual value (what the market place tells me) of maybe 50% on that GTN480 or 430W compared to something like a 650.

    I'm simply stating, buying that 10 year old glass panel may not be as good a deal as you think and most certainly fraught with risk.

    Fancy/glass panels are cool... lots of wow there. So from an economic standpoint, they sell because people like eye candy. No doubt about that. But of the new owners I've known... the ones who favored fancy panels over solid mechanical's have been far more disappointed in their purchase.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2013
  33. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'm willing to bet that I deal directly with more owners and prospective owners in the course of any single year than you do in 20, along with all their CFO's, lenders, investment bankers, board members and other suits who crunch each number like an aluminum beer can, including the one who just finished a 70K panel and avionics upgrade in April and is thrilled with the results.
     
  34. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    I am a believer that engines that do not fly much do not make it to TBO. Assuming the OH engine is like 2 years old and you are going to fly 100 hours a year, I would go with the newer engine. If the plane is going to be a hangar queen, I pick the better panel.
     
  35. jbarrass

    jbarrass Line Up and Wait

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    Panel.

    Finance-wise it depends on what is in it but I choose panel because you get the benefit right away, The engine will be the more-or-less the same before and after you spend the bucks. Flying behind a 200 hour engine is the same as flying behind a 1200 hour engine. Flying behind a nice panel is a different experience.
     
  36. poadeleted21

    poadeleted21 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well, you missed my point that was "do the math". I was trying to be "reasonable" since most planes aren't outfitted with GTN750s yet. But see my post and add $3K.
     
  37. Jeff K

    Jeff K Pre-takeoff checklist

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    And you'd win that bet handly just like the used car salesman would too... but the specific topic at hand had to do with EOL of electronic display components in particular when firmware is involved. And you, like the used car salesman, are spectacularly unqualified to address that topic.

    BTW, you had 13 "questions" in the last response. Your kindergarten teacher must have bouncing off the walls in your class... :goofy:
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2013
  38. Jeff K

    Jeff K Pre-takeoff checklist

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    And my comment directed at you was just to point out the 530W had been discontinued and Garmin had warned of pending parts unavailability. Don't read any more then that into it as that was all I was commenting on in your case.
     
  39. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    And it's obvious you didn't have answers for any of the 13, so maybe you should stick to something you know more about.

    Nor was the conversation exclusively or even predominately about displays until you put your foot in it and displayed your ignorance.



     
  40. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Of course But if you buy the F150 of the species, there are so many, they tend to have service for a longer time. I thought Garmin shutoff the 480 database last spring. I didn't look it up, however.