What to do; upgrade the plane or the avionics

Discussion in 'Avionics and Upgrades' started by PA20something, Oct 28, 2018.

  1. PA20something

    PA20something Filing Flight Plan

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    Hello all! Just a little about myself being that this is my first post. Currently, I’m in my 3rd year of college. I am almost finished up with getting my private license. I’m making payments on a pa-28-140 with the 160hp stc and has about 5000 hours AF and 1100 SMOH. It’s a very clean plane. I started working at a smaller A&P shop earlier this year that also sprays crops. Hopefully I will get my commercial license by then end of next year in hopes of being able to spray after that. On the road to the commercial I was hoping to get my ifr certification. In my searches I’ve found that most people wanting to convert their plane to have IFR capabilities ultimately decide not to because of the major cost of labor. All labor done on my plane is mostly free of charge being that I can do most of the work with direct supervision. Now I understand that making a Cherokee 140 IFR capable isn’t close to the best option in the world, but I bought the plane out of annual for a really good price. I was wondering what would be suggested for avionics to make it IFR certified. I want to learn with the bare minimum equipment required. It only has 1 nav/com, a narco Mk 12D, a mode C narco AT150 , and one VOR without glideslope. It also has a gyro and turn/slip. It doesn’t have pitot heat, but that would be on the list. I do not want an autopilot. I was hoping for some direction on if it would be wise to upgrade the existing plane, or to try to find a different plane that is IFR certified. Any slightly budget friendly suggestions on equipment would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    welcome to POA. Don't upgrade the airplane. Get your IR rating via rental, sell that airplane and get something with more capability already installed, if you intend on owning privately for leisure. Good luck.
     
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  3. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pre-takeoff checklist

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    It sounds like you acquired a pretty nice example of your make and model. Whether or not to upgrade the panel depends on whether or not this airplane fits your typical mission, as the panel upgrade will cost a significant fraction of the total value of the aircraft. If you are keeping the plane long term, a panel upgrade can make sense to make it more comfortable and safe to fly.

    I made that decision for my Traveler when the engine reached its expiration date about a decade ago. I overhauled the engine, and decided that it was worth kitting out properly for WAAS, autopilot, ADS-B, etc. I could have started over with a more capable plane, but there is also value in a simple, 8 gph aircraft for regional IFR liesure travel.
     
  4. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies Super Moderator Management Council Member

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    Sounds like it wouldn't be THAT hard to upgrade to IFR. If you replace the MK12D with one that works on glideslope and a new CDI would be all you need provided you have a full six-pack. Probably could be done for under 5k.

    Goodluck! keep us in the loop!
     
  5. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pre-takeoff checklist

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    For sure, that would be the cheapest route to minimal IFR equipage, but if I was going to plunk down 5k I would scrape up a bit more and install a WAAS GPS, even if only a used GNS430. In today's airspace system, you should train with IFR GPS if going for the IR, especially if flying in non urban areas where LPV or LNAV GPS may be the only operational approaches.
     
  6. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies Super Moderator Management Council Member

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    To get a Waas GPS it's not a "little more" You're looking at 8k for the unit alone, plus another 5k for install costs + misc parts... I went down that route, and decided it wasn't for me.

    Edit: I'm doing my IR training with only a single Nav/Comm (GNC255+ GTR225) with glideslope. Buuuut you can train GPS approaches (Non-Waas) with a VFR handheld GPS (Aera 660).
     
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  7. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Are you going to keep the airplane after you get the rating,does it fit your future mission? If not. I wouldn’t spend the money to upgrade.
     
  8. Datadriver

    Datadriver Line Up and Wait

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    Don't do it. At some point in your life you will need to sell the aircraft. No one will buy it at the inflated price.
     
  9. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    Yeah, you gotta be careful with the avionics red cup crowd. To them, spending 15K in blinky lights and electric doo-dads is considered a pittance, but they'll wank about the same expenditure going towards an airframe repair or engine. That's because they've generally adapted up to the order of magnitude differences between mechanical mx costs and avionics because they just love blinky lights. Which is fine, but it's still a case of we see what we want to see.

    I went through a similar exercise when looking at 4-banger twins and everybody (different forum) told me the aggregate cost difference between a pair of Lyco O-320/360s and two Conti -470/520s is "minimal increase in expense". That's when I knew I was talking to "converts", and not people who remember what it was actually like to pay bills on a 4 banger single. It's an offshoot of confirmation bias.
     
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  10. TigerGene

    TigerGene Pre-takeoff checklist

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    FAR 61.65 should answer this question. A quick read shows me that you have to demonstrate 3 different kinds of approaches.

    So if you have just a single Nav/Com you could demonstrate a VOR approach and a Localizer approach. With a very understanding DPE you might get away with a radar approach if one was available near you. Otherwise you must install something to allow a different approach. The cheapest solution would be to install at least a 2nd Nav with glide slope to allow an ILS, better yet a 2nd NAV/Comm. But you would also have to have an ILS approach system reasonably close to your airport.

    A GPS is not required, expensive to purchase and install, and could be a pain to certify for IFR depending on the unit. And don’t foget about the expense of the database!

    I believe an IFR GPS and approaches will significantly complicate the learning process. You will have steep learning curve in learning how to use the GPS to it’s full potential. If you get a Pain in the Rear DPE you better know how to utilize EVERY feature of the GPS AND be prepared to explain when and where it CAN be used, as well as where and when it can’t. A GPS gives a DPE lots of opportunity to trip you up!

    Be very deliberate in your decision and be sure to consult several different instrument instructors before making your decision.

    In the end it might be best to do most of the training in your plane as it is, and the rest in a rental. As long as you have the basic instrument equipment and one Nav/Com you should be able to complete the majority of your training. Switch to the rental for the last 10 hours or so and for the check ride.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018
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  11. TigerGene

    TigerGene Pre-takeoff checklist

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    4 questions:

    1. Does your plane have a marker beacon?
    2. Can you add a glideslope receiver to your existing Nav? Sometimes you can add a separate glideslope receiver that connects to your existing Nav. Still need the right CDI though,
    3. Do you have or can you trade for a CDI with glideslope?
    4. Seen this? https://www.valavionics.com/ins-429.html
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018
  12. TigerGene

    TigerGene Pre-takeoff checklist

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  13. TigerGene

    TigerGene Pre-takeoff checklist

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  14. John221us

    John221us En-Route

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    Depending on the year of the Cherokee, it probably has a "shotgun" panel. You get used to it, but my instructor didn't want to give instrument lessons with it. The panel is not cheap to convert to a "six pack" as you need to have a new panel cut and the panel is considered structural (need a 337). You would also need to replace some of the non-standard sized gauges. I opted not to upgrade my panel. I had two NAV/COMs, but no glide slope and no DME and one of the NAV/COMs was inop. I was looking at a minimum of $5K for a very basic IFR certified panel (probably more). I know you said you work in an A&P shop, but will they sign off on avionics for you? Do you have enough knowledge to wire it up yourself?
     
  15. edo2000

    edo2000 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The Val 429 mentioned here seems like a good approach. I was recently quoted $3000 installed for one of those. The OP would then have dual VOR's, marker beacon, and precision approach (ILS) capability with indicator. If he was able to save on the install, he might spend even less. I think the street price of the unit is around $1700.
     
  16. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    Adding the VAL would give you the minimum 3 approaches. (you'd have ILS, LOC, and VOR) You didn't mention anything with DME in your panel, so you'll need to be careful about what is available at the airports in your area to demonstrate for the checkride.

    You could also roll the dice on a Garmin 155XL and add non-precision GPS approaches to your current setup. Probably would cost less and give more short term value. There's one on the bay right now: https://www.ebay.com/p/Garmin-GPS-1...A-Form-8130/524531990?iid=132766370855&chn=ps
     
  17. Ryan F.

    Ryan F. Line Up and Wait

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    I'd probably get the airplane airworthy, keep it that way, resist spending any money that's not required to maintain airworthiness, and sell it when ready to buy an IFR-capable plane. Even though you have "free" labor it's still not worth upgrading the 140. It will just eat that upgrade money, and when you sell you'll have nothing to show for it. Sorry to be a downer, but I've been an airplane owner for close to two decades now and I've read this story and all the possible endings more time than I care to count.
     
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  18. SbestCFII

    SbestCFII Line Up and Wait

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    A Garmin 430 (non-WAAS) would be a reasonable upgrade. You get ILS/Localizer/VOR all on one unit with capability of LNAV GPS approaches and a legal substitute for ADF and DME. LNAV GPS approaches will get you on the ground reliably with CIG as low as 500'. A GDL-82 is a reasonable ADS-B solution and you can use your existing transponder and keep your current Nav/Comm for the #2.
     
  19. murphey

    murphey Final Approach

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    I've got a TKM MK 60 CDI that works with Narco and TKM that has glideslope output. It's a spare, as the first one is is the CDI for my Apollo/UPS/Garmin SL 30. If interested, $275 and I'll pay shipping.
     
  20. alfadog

    alfadog En-Route

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    Going through something similar right now with a Cherokee 140. My friend put a deposit on it but is having second thoughts. The airplane is 4-place, in decent shape, fresh annual, and well under $20k but has the shotgun panel and minimal avionics. He was thinking of upgrading it for his IR also. However, we do not see that as cost-effective if you are thinking ROI. If you are not thinking ROI then go with a 430W, the 430 with tray, antenna, and indicator is running close to $7k so might as well spend a bit more for the WAAS. For ROI, a cheap nav-com with GS and an older Apollo or BK IFR GPS comes in at not much over $2k in parts. That leaves you with an outdated system that is good to have in the airplane in a pinch but is not something I would recommend for training. Your differential between renting and running a 140 is what, $50/hour? So rent for 40 hours and have a more appropriate A/C for $2k more. I rented a C172 with 430W and dual G5's for $120/hr for my IR.
     
  21. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    There's a 430W with tray and connectors listed for $6500 on VAF right now. Probably will sell quickly.
     
  22. Ryan F.

    Ryan F. Line Up and Wait

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    To me that's an illogical move. Unless it's a slide-in replacement for a pre-existing dead 430W, why would you? I picked up an almost-new GTN650 for just under $9k. For a delta of $2500 you have the current gen with a projected lifespan decades longer than the GNS. It just doesn't make sense to spend all that money installing a WAAS Navigator that is so old. I realize there are usually exceptions, but for such a tiny savings, to get in on the tail end of a product's service life would be really hard to justify in my opinion.
     
  23. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    lemme do some quick math... uh, yeah, you're suggestion costs 140% of the cost of my alternative. The thread started about reducing cost while achieving a goal, and it's for a Cherokee 140.

    But you're probably right. He should get an IDF540. It's ONLY $6k more than those crappy GTN650's.
     
  24. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A clean 140 that is IFR certified and has the minimum equipment to fly a checkride will sell quickly if you ever wanted to sell. Just don't over-do it, nobody is going to pay you 50k for a flying avionics shop.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018 at 11:52 AM
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  25. TigerGene

    TigerGene Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You don’t NEED a GPS to get an instrument rating. Simple solutions are cheaper and more sensible for simple airplanes.

    Inexpensive airplane, inexpensive solution.
    High dollar airplane, high dollar solution.
     
  26. Ryan F.

    Ryan F. Line Up and Wait

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    It took me a minute to figure out what you were talking about because obviously the delta between a GNS and GTN series Navigator is nowhere near 140% the price of the lower cost option. You must be referencing the VAL you discussed earlier in the thread.

    Different discussion, and not my ball of wax. I don't know anything about that unit. You're talking WAAS Navigators on one hand, and a non-GPS solution on the other. I have no comment on the latter, only on the former. It makes a lot more sense to spend the money on the latest gen rather than dropping in a 430W for a few dollars less. That's all I am pointing out.
     
  27. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    You're messing with me, right? A GNS for 6500. 6500 * 1.4 = 9100. 1.4 times the cost is the same as 140%
     
  28. Ryan F.

    Ryan F. Line Up and Wait

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    Not messing with you. The cost of the installation is the difference maker and I alluded to that in my post. ALL avionics purchases must be made with installation costs in mind. The cost to install a 430W or GTN650 into an airplane with no pre-existing tray/harness for either will be about the same -- probably between $3-6k, depending on the shop and what's getting connected to it. Then you have the cost to replace and install a new Navigator a few years down the the road instead of decades. The difference in real value is enormous. The cost to install the GTN over the GNS, minimal. I reiterate, it just doesn't make sense to go for an out-of-the-box, near end-of-life product like the 430W vs. 650 for the minimal savings involved. It's actually more expensive in the big picture. I hope this clarifies my position for you.
     
  29. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    @Ryan F. - We reading the same thread?

    OP has a PA28-140 and is planning to self install at the shop he works for. His only current motivation is to get the plane IFR at least cost.

    Every extra $1k on that plane is one he'll never see again.

    you've been around here long enough... how much laughter do we get from a C152 with a tricked out panel?
     
  30. Ryan F.

    Ryan F. Line Up and Wait

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    We certainly are.

    Understood, but no installation is free of charge, even one you do yourself.

    Agreed.

    Sure. If the conversation was about whether or not to install a WAAS Navigator, my answer would be simple: don't. Don't install anything. No GPS. Just have a functional /A panel. Really feeling froggy, maybe install an Aera 660 in an AirGizmo dock or something of that nature, just to improve SA for a minimal spend although it's all VFR-only. Otherwise, go with minimal ADS-B Out compliance with regards to WAAS, and leave it at that. A 140 with or without an IFR GPS is still a 140 and will top out at the same place in the market.

    But the conversation changed when you suggested a 430W for $6500. My reponse to you (not him) was, and is, that it would be far better to spend the extra $2500 for the latest gen product and install that instead, for the reasons I provided, with due consideration made for the valid point you made about "every $1k spent is lost forever." Despite that, it still would make sense to spend that extra couple K.

    Although the airplane isn't "worth" more or less with or without either box, it will certainly be easier to sell with a 650 installed, and that does translate into less time on the market. I realize that avnionics are a slippery slope, but jumping up a whole level to 430W and not reaching a little higher for the 650 just doesn't pencil out in my opinion.

    Again, I hope this better clarifies my position. I've owned two airplanes and have been involved in many transactions, so this is a subject I'm pretty familiar with.