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Garmin avionics buttons - poor tactile feedback

This is one of my few dislikes of Garmin avionics kit and I wondered if anyone else has the same experience.

I find that the tactile feedback of buttons is consistently poor on many different Garmin products. To make buttons easy to use without needing to visually verify that they have worked, they need to:

  1. Provide clear tactile “click” feedback when the button press has been completed.
  2. Only provide the tactile feedback when the button press has worked.

I find that Garmin products fail on both of these points. Many of their buttons have no distinctive tactile feedback (or it disappears with age?) and even worse, sometimes they provide a clicking feedback but you then look at the screen to find that the button press didn’t actually work.

This means that you have the press the buttons much harder than should be necessary, and you have to be looking at the screen to know if the button press actually worked, rather than just relying on the feedback through your finger, which is a problem when looking elsewhere such as instrument scanning. Once you have your finger over the desired button you should be able to look away and focus elsewhere, and rely only on the tactile feedback to know that the press has worked.

I have had this experience with various Garmin products including:

  1. G1000/Perspective “soft buttons”
  2. GTX transponders
  3. GFC700 autopilot control panel
  4. GCU47X FMS controller (keyboard)

I haven’t flow with a GTN or GNS navigator for a while but I seem to remember that the GTN has a similar issue.

Anyone else find the same, and is there a fix available?

Last Edited by dnj at 23 Mar 11:18

I’m using G1000, GNS430 and GTN650 avionics. I can’t say I’ve had the same experience — I feel that the buttons have at the very least adequate tactile feedback.

Our GNS430 used to have poor feedback and indeed unreliable function. Our avionics shop said that was a common problem on old boxes and they replaced the contact mechanisms of the buttons at very reasonable cost.

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

Interesting, sounds like it is age related then. Currently flying a 2008 Perspective Cirrus.

Although this raises a question as to the quality of switches that Garmin are using, as they do not get many presses over 10 years compared to other consumer and industrial products.

My other aircraft has just had a brand new GNC255 (8.33 upgrade) and I’ve not noticed the issue there yet.

Bring back the HP RPN calculators with the rocker buttons! Best ever. I don’t suppose Garmin is going to go this route ….

Sans aircraft at the moment :-(, United Kingdom

On my GNS430W I have to depress the “ENT” really hard, which is annoying. Not sure if there is a fix.

I agree the Garmin buttons are a bit rubbish.

EGTK Oxford

I had the standard price Garmin service on my 18 year old GNS430. It had an unstable VOR output. I asked them to check the tactile buttons, it came with an entire new front panel, new screen, new buttons, much better now. The first generation buttons had lost their ‘click’;


Lucius wrote:

On my GNS430W I have to depress the “ENT” really hard, which is annoying. Not sure if there is a fix.

That was the situation with our GNS430, too. Our avionics shop fixed that by replacing the button “mechanism”.

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden
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