Why is installation so expensive?

Discussion in 'Avionics and Upgrades' started by jd21476, Feb 11, 2020.

  1. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

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    I guess you ask that about all we do in this sport/hobby/obsession.


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  2. PPC1052

    PPC1052 En-Route

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    This sounds like a job duct tape was designed for!
     
  3. Jamie Kirk

    Jamie Kirk Line Up and Wait

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    I waited 4 hours to have tire and tubes changed once at a local shop. In that 4 hours I watched the same mechanic go between 3 planes off and on. In my head I’m thinking man, $125 an hour for each plane, billing 24 hours of labor for an 8 hour day.
     
  4. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    So what did they charge you?
     
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  5. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    Sure, for those who enjoy electronics I'm sure they feel it's worth it versus doing something else with that kind of money. A subjective valuation for sure.

    Personally, I don't particularly enjoy the dynamics of this segment of the hobby. Specifically I'm put off by the the cost model and the captive audience antics from the monopolistic OEMs. Some of the differentials in price when being sold for EABs also do not sit well with me as a matter of principle. Partnerships also dilute the effective cost; sole owners see the real price tag, so that amplifies the cost issue for my demographic, which drives further away from participation (feedback loop). Nothing new under the sun, to each their own.

    My only legitimate concern in this arena is the degree to which these avionics costs create or could create an undue burden entry floor to being able to fly to the permissive degree a private pilot certificate allowed for the day before, sans equipment barriers. I went through that recently with ADSB-Out. Not happy about that at all. I'll have to re-evaluate my continued footprint in the hobby if another avionics mandate were to be implemented in the next 10 years, vis a vis the operational limitation it would place on the airplane if not complied with. Spending all this money to be told NO constantly is getting under my skin big time, but that's a macro issue I take with the hobby that is not limited to avionics. I digress.
     
  6. write-stuff

    write-stuff En-Route

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    Has anyone done a DYI install of the G5 AI? It seems like it should be pretty simple...
    [​IMG]
     
  7. bradg33

    bradg33 Pattern Altitude

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    Yes. Installation of a stand-alone G5 AI, with no connection to a navigator (external antenna) is very simply, probably a 10 man hour job. Connection to power, ground and external antenna, plus connection to pitot-static.
     
  8. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I bet I spent a day just making the doubler and filler plates to fill the hole vacated by the removed gyro shock mounted panel. Of course I had to etch, alodine and epoxy pain them too.
     

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  9. PiperW

    PiperW Pre-takeoff checklist

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    ....not cheap to maintain either but don’t want to be falling out of the sky thinking I had the money to fix that problem.
     
  10. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The question is whether you'll get $20K more enjoyment for the next $20K you spend on the new avionics. For some people yes, for others, no.

    There are a couple more upgrades that would add value for me — new paint, a new interior, a modern audio panel, and a SIRS mag compass top the list — but replacing my steam gauges (which I like) with glass wouldn't make my plane fly any faster or better, and would take away a bit from my enjoyment, so no, not worth it (for me).

    OTOH, I have no regrets about installing a simple autopilot in 2011, or an IFR GPS and ADS-B transponder in 2017—for me, they enhanced my flying experience enough to justify the money. But otherwise, I'd rather spend my next $20K on gas, recurrent training, nice hotels and meals for overnight trips, etc—it goes a long way there.
     
  11. SbestCFII

    SbestCFII Line Up and Wait

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    In order to support their dealers / installers, avionics makers are avoiding the "slide-in replacement" upgrades to existing avionics. For instance, Garmin could have made the 650/750 units, slide ins for the 430/530, but dealer/installers wouldn't like that. The installer nearest me wants $2900 to put in an intercom (not an audio panel, an f-ing intercom). That should be a lesson for everyone.
     
  12. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man En-Route

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    Agreed. Don’t get me wrong, if I won the lottery I would go to a glass panel simply because it makes your instrument scan a little easier. Pretty much all the technology is in the autopilot and GPS and the screens are just that, $8,000.00 TV’s.
     
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  13. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If I won the lottery, I'd buy a very simple taildragger with minimal steam gauges for fun VFR flying, and a fast, comfortable plane with all the bells and whistles for cross-country trips. I suspect, though, that I'd enjoy the simple taildragger a lot more, and the fancy plane would spend most of its time in a hangar.
     
  14. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

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    Homebuilding can take the sting out of some of it if one is willing and able to trade some sweat for $$. Experimental gear was much cheaper back in 2008 when I made my big purchase. But to add just 2 switches I’m faced with closing this up.
    [​IMG]
    It’s all fun


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  15. PPC1052

    PPC1052 En-Route

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    I could be wrong, but I doubt that they forgo slide in in order to drive up install prices. Slide in replacements lower the cost to buy new units and keep people loyal to the brand so dealers can sell more products. Garmin gets none of the installation costs. Consequently, it does no good for Garmin to drive install costs up so installers (but not Garmin) can make more per individual sale when it drives down the ability to move new units. Better to lower the install costs so total unit sales go up. We saw Garmin start to get wise with 650xi/750xi units.
     
  16. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    Best return on the money if safety is of any concern.
     
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  17. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pre-takeoff checklist

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  18. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Agreed. I think we need to apply Hanlon's Razor here before we go looking for any deep, evil conspiracy. It was probably just a matter of some excited engineers saying "look, here's our new and improved tray!" and the product manager not realising the sales implications of changing it.
     
  19. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    "Why is installation so expensive?"

    Avionics R Us invoice
    Feb 14 2020
    1. Skill at working in the confined, dark recesses behind the panel... $V000.00
    2. Ability to not panic when your labels fall off a bunch of the jillion tiny wires.....$W000.00
    3. Blue smoke avoidance technique...$X000.00
    4. Handling daily phone calls from multiple owners all saying the same thing, "I gotta trip next week, can you get it done....?" .....$Y000.00
    5. Ability to understand any part of those multi-page things they call "wiring diagrams" (but in fact are just nonsensical doodlings of a 3yo child who is really good with a ruler.) ..... $Z000.00
     
  20. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pre-takeoff checklist

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    They bill for person time, not clock time. If a shop double- or triple-billed a mechanic's time during a shift, it would be criminal fraud.
     
  21. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    ...with lawyer time double- or triple-billed. ;)
     
  22. NWA

    NWA Filing Flight Plan

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  23. Jdm

    Jdm Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Check this pic. Now that’s a lot of work! It’s unreal how many add ons were done over the years. I wanted all that old and unnecessary wiring removed.
    New Garmin rack going in. One piece metal panel, ELT interfaced to GPS, 4 place intercom jacks, new PTT yoke drilling. New insulation/sound proofing from from firewall to door frames, including underneath the glare shield. The old stuff was totally dilapidated. Of course they found the typical corrosion that had to be cleaned up. The plane has been outside forever so it’s to be expected. Went with new led nav/strobe/beacon, along with new wiring from the cockpit to the tips and tail. Much cheaper to get those extras done while everything is torn apart. Also makes for a cleaner installation rather than adding the stuff on later.

    It’s a ton of labor alright. Really adds up if you want a quality job!
     

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  24. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Because you’ll pay it
     
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  25. seaghost

    seaghost Filing Flight Plan

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    Years ago when we added a GNC300xl to our Arrow panel we went with a then "Approach Systems" Pro Hub and Cable System, all avionics connect separately, so now for example changing a Transponder means we only need a new xponder cable to the hub, same for a radio, altitude encoder, Nav indicator etc. Our avionics shop had given us a quote for the install without the hub, and would only an charge hourly rate for the install with the hub, in the end buying the hub and cables plus the hours charged came out less than the original quote. And now we save money with every change or addition, to our panel.
     
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  26. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

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    I used the Approach FastStack or Pro Hub in my experimental RV10. It was the key to 1) enabling me to do my own panel and 2) enabling easy updates. It really works well.

    The best part was the deep knowledge on the part of the folks at Approach, particularly Tim Hass. Even though I installed a hodgepodge of certified and experimental equipment including 3 EFIS/MFD screens, 2 axis AP, etc, he knew long before I had figured out exactly the connections needed to optimize the various components (and there were more than a few optional ways to wire things together). Upgrades generally just require ordering a new cable, possibly discarding an old one, and plugging it in. I’ve done a few. The whole installation is documented in detail and updated as part of any upgrade.

    Can’t say enough good things about the ‘their approach’, the hub, and their service.

    I can see how it would enable supervised owner assisted upgrades on certified craft if desired.


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  27. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    There are more folks at Approach besides Tim Hass? :)
     
  28. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ya wanna know why upgrades cost money? This is why:

    Low res worth money.jpg

    They're very complex. And, BTW, what you're seeing here is the very first substantial avionics upgrade since the plane rolled out of the factory in 1997. Most of the older airplanes most of us are flying from the 60s or 70s have who knows how many wires leading to nowhere, making the job that much more complex, whether or not you choose to remove them.

    IMO, what I paid for the upgrade above was worth every penny.
     
  29. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    i have often wondered how much labor it is to get rid of every piece of old wiring nightmare out and re-wire the entire thing... but i am afraid to ask the question to my avionics guy
     
  30. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Couple hundred hours NBD.
     
  31. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    If it were just running wires it wouldn't be a big deal. But you have to think that every little wire is terminated by a pin, a ring terminal etc. and must be grounded and connected in the way it is now. That involves hundreds if not thousands, of terminals each of which involves stripping, crimping and grounding in some instances. You also have to consider the time and human contortionist skills it takes to tear everything apart including interior and instruments and put them all back together again.
     
  32. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Aaaaand each wire should be marked. Unless you have a self-feeding laser wire marker or similar, that can also cut them to length, its a slow process

    upload_2020-3-30_15-10-37.png
     
  33. kayoh190

    kayoh190 Super Moderator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Holy crap!
     
  34. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    o boy
     
  35. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I had a pro shop build the harnesses for the G3X system in my RV-10. IIRC, the harnesses were $2500. They span from all of the G3X boxes to a 2 servo autopilot to a Garmin 625, Com gear, Txp, etc. Even after that, I guarantee there's 50 more hours in routing and terminating things, 'cause you frequently only get the connector on one end and bare wires on the other end so you can fish the bare wire end through the nooks and crannies, then terminate the wires once you've pulled that end of the bundle to its destination.
     
  36. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    I can guarantee in my old bird there is a gazillion feet on wires that doesn’t go anywhere. At one point this plane was a avionics test bed for ASI, just during those 15 years or so, they had changed like 20 diff instruments. If I ever have to go this route, I might pull every wire out myself, route the wires under supervision and get something consolidated. Even with that, this ain’t gonna be cheap .... sigh
     
  37. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    So, every month or so, get yourself a set of wire snips and climb under the panel for 30 minutes or an hour. When you find a "wire to nowhere" or a bundle of 'em pull 'em back to the source and remove them. It doesn't have to be a marathon de-wiring session, but every wire you remove today is less weight, less wire to remove tomorrow, and one fewer false lead when someone is troubleshooting under the panel.
     
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  38. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

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    Frankly I have no idea. He’s the only person I’ve ever communicated with there. I don’t even know how big an organization it is, how long it’s been around, what all they do.

    Sounds like you might know more... please share.


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  39. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    I don't know either. I just know that the couple times I called, the conversation always started with "Hi, this is Tim".
     
  40. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

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    Same here but must admit, I’ve considered that a plus.


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