Flying the Garmin G1000 – Part I

There’s a revolution going on in general aviation right now. One that is changing the way small planes, otherwise known as general aviation, are flown.

The Garmin G1000 is driving much of that change into small planes and Very Light Jets. The Garmin G1000 is an integrated cockpit manufactured by Garmin, typically composed of two display units, one serving as a primary flight display, and one as a multi-function display. It serves as a replacement for most conventional flight instruments and avionics.

Garmin G1000 Cockpit

Today, most new aircraft come with glass cockpits such as the Garmin G1000. I’m a very big fan of the products that Garmin manufactures. Shortly after getting my private pilot license in 2000, I purchased a handheld GPS unit, the GPSMAP 295 for backup navigation in the event of an avionics failure. However, renting different aircraft, each one with a different GPS unit and manufacturer, it was very difficult to remember how to use each one effectively and efficiently. Therefore, I ended up mounting the GPSMAP 295 unit on my yoke and using it as my primary GPS instead of trying to figure out the panel mounted one in the airplane. I also own one of the portable automotive GPS units, the Garmin StreetPilot C330 which I love and highly recommend.

The flying club that I belong to, Trade Winds Aviation at Reid-Hillview Airport here in San Jose, is a Cessna dealer and most of their rental fleet is made up of mostly new Cessna aircraft. In March of 2006 a brand new Cessna Skyhawk 172SP with the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit was available in the rental fleet. I had been reading about the Garmin G1000 and seen them in the fractional ownership program that Trade Winds Aviation offers. Now that one was available on the rental line, I started attending the seminars, taking courses, and reading up on how to transition to the new glass cockpit environment. For the past… well, a very long time. 30 years at least. Not much has changed in the cockpit environment for general aviation for your basic flying instruments. The “six-pack” instrument panel below is what most of us, our fathers, grandfathers, etc. all learned to fly with.

The old \

The six pack refers to the instruments I’ve highlighted above. These are, from top-left to right:

  • Airspeed Indicator
  • Attitude Indicator
  • Altimeter
  • Turn Coordinator
  • Heading Indicator
  • Vertical Speed Indicator

These are the main instruments that pilots use to keep the airplane in flight. The other instruments are primarily for navigation, communication, and engine indicators such as fuel quantities, oil pressure, etc.

The new glass cockpit is not only sexier, but it is also leaps and bounds safer and more reliable. It provides greater situational awareness and valuable information inside the cockpit that most airliners don’t have yet. There’s so much to cover that I am going to break up the content into a few different posts.

About the author

Terry Blanchard

I'm the Vice President of Engineering at Readdle, ex-Apple, design evangelist, drummer, and gadget junkie extraordinaire.

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