The primary focus for 2012 was upgrading the panel. In the 21st century, a KX-170B navcom is the aeronautical equivalent of crow's feet: a sure sign of aging. With Garmin's venerable GNS-430 recently replaced by the whiz-bang touch screen GTN-650, I was able to get a good deal on a like-new 430W (built this century, no less!).
The annual inspection was complete by midday on Tuesday. Everything was in good shape and compressions were all (76-78)/80. The avionics upgrade occurred over a longer timeframe. When I departed the shop Tuesday afternoon, the panel was still completely gutted right of the primary flight instruments.
|"Before" - The panel as it was configured prior to the panel remodel.|
|"After" - The remodeled panel.|
|A close up of the radio stack and new CDI.|
Inside, the most obvious change is the replacement of a KX-170B navcom (an early 1970's vintage box several years older than the airplane itself) with a Garmin GNS-430W moving map GPS / navcom. This gives Warrior 481 and I significantly more navigational capability, including IFR approaches for when I am qualified to perform such things. The non-functional Piper OEM clock was replaced by a digital Davtron M800 clock and timer. All avionics were consolidated into the center radio stack where having the transponder within convenient reach is a definite plus. The GNS-430 is mated to a Garmin GI-106A course deviation indicator (CDI) that bumped the previous #1 CDI, a King KI-209, to the #2 position. My previous #2 CDI, a sluggish old KI-208, is now relegated to desk ornament status. The displaced KX-170B is available to me as a backup navcom if the other one dies. With a static leak repaired under the panel, Warrior 481 traded in her VFR altimeter / transponder certification for an IFR certification.
We are now ready for instrument training.
I flew that evening, acclimating to the new equipment. The first thing I noticed: after flying with dual KX-170Bs for so long, the bright display of the 430 in the middle of the instrument panel was a little distracting. A little voice inside my head kept piping up with, "I wonder what it's doing now?". And, of course, I just had to look. My only prior flight experience with a 430 was in the Archer I rented while flying in the Rockies, but in that case, NOTHING could distract from the view outside. I am certain that I will get used to it, but I also know that I have a learning curve ahead of me. Thank goodness for Garmin's PC-based simulation software - a far less costly way to learn!