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Avionics upgrade


I would like to upgrade the avionics panel in our (newly bought!) PA32 but not spend to much. I don’t have that much knowledge about avionics equipment yet
What should be prioritised? I would like to keep it IFR approved.

Casimir D
ESVE Stegeborg

What should be prioritised?

1. Mode-S-Transponder, otherwise your IFR flying will be severly limited.
2. Exchange the lower COM/NAV unit (I doubt that it is 8,33MHz capable) with a GNS430W or something similar.

That should do it for quite some time!

EDDS - Stuttgart

One good IFR-GPS NAVCOM would be a start. It could replace one of the COMS. Depending on your budget it could be a (used) GNS430W or new GTN650. Or even a GNS530/GTN750 … Does it have an autopilot? If not then that and a good engine analyzer would be next on my list …

Unfortunately no autopilot! It’s a Piper Cherokee Six 260 (Lycoming O-540).

Casimir D
ESVE Stegeborg

No doubt about mode S and an IFR-approved GPS. In fact, an old GNS430 (non-W) is already a huge improvement compared to your current installation, and it does provide 8.33 kHz COM channel spacing, too, so if you find an especially good deal on one, consider it as well.
One more item of operational convenience that’s nice to have is an HSI with a slaved compass, which in the GA case almost universally means a KCS55/KCS55A. I’d give it about the same priority as an engine analyser, and move the autopilot further down the priority list (don’t get me wrong, an autopilot is really nice to have, but it’s very expensive, too).

LKBU (near Prague), Czech Republic

Ultranomad: Then maybe a Aspen Evolution 1000 would be a more future proof installation?

Casimir D
ESVE Stegeborg

would like to upgrade the avionics panel in our (newly bought!) PA32 but not spend to much.

I don’t have that much knowledge about avionics equipment yet

Sorry for being a bit negative here, but it sounds like you did it all wrong. You should have previously informed yourself about what upgrading avionics costs.

That panel is a pure 1970s panel. Not 2000s, not 1990s and not even 1980s. It lacks everything a contemporary IFR fit encompasses. You can essentially throw it all away.

Sure, you can just do a minimum job to just barely make it IFR legal, but even then it will cost a big amount. If you really want to get it up to date, it will be well north of 50k€.

Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany

Casimir, of course an Aspen would be cool … but if i were you i’d start with the most important stuff. A normal 430 cannot be recommended anymore, but of course it would be an improvement. To me a good autopilot would be much more important than the Aspen.

A very good solution would be:
- GTX328 mode S
- 1 GNS 430 or 530
- KAP150 or S-TEC30+ autopilot with GPSS (my Warrior has a 30+ that works very well)
- A good engine analyzer or at least a FS450 fuel flow

LATER you could always add an Aspen PFD ….

I think one first needs to decide whether “IFR” means serious IFR, or just IFR-legal.

The former needs an autopilot. I know many will disagree but we have free speech here Anybody doing serious IFR (proper IFR flights across Europe) by hand is either superhuman (I have never met one of those) or a sado-masochist (yeah, GA is full of them). 99% of the time, in IFR, nothing happens and the remaining 1% a lot happens and you don’t want to be hand-flying. When you have the autopilot, then you can talk about other stuff. A GNS430 is the legal minimum (RNAV5, RNAV1, 8.33) and practically one would regard a GNS430W as the starting point (GPS/LPV capable). After that, it depends on your budget. You do need a slaved compass system and the EFD1000 is probably the cheapest way to do that. (Actually a used KCS55 from US Ebay is a lot cheaper – if you are N-reg).

The latter… well, a GNS430 will do. But it will be a very limited aircraft from the point of view of cockpit workload if going anywhere seriously.

This is my 1990s panel which everybody laughs at but actually it is absolutely brilliant. I can fly anywhere I want, VFR or IFR, more or less effortlessly. It does everything needed for European IFR (except LPV, but then I just fly the ILS ) and everything works as it should.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Uhm … why should anybody laugh about that panel??? It is GREAT!

No real IFR flying without a good autopilot, i cannot even imagine anybody would disagree.

In Germany single hand IFR requires an autopilot.

Last Edited by Flyer59 at 19 Jan 18:54
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