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Garmin GTN650 and Avidyne EX600

The GTN650 has very little additional functionality over the GNS430W. You can see the comparison here and it boils down to the (MUCH) better screen and user interface, the ability to control remote avionics, some MFD functions, and airways data. None of which would make me rip out a GNS430W and replace it with a GTN, but for a new unit I would get the GTN.

The touch screen is brilliant. You can easily rest your hand on the bezel, hitting the touch areas in turbulence is not any harder than hitting the correct button on a classic unit. Frequency tuning is via keypad or twisting, to personal taste.

There were two things I did not like, though: the CDI (GPS/VLOC) button is not on the main map page, and normally only the COM frequencies are displayed and NAV frequencies are hidden. Both issues only affect the GTN650, not the 750.

Biggin Hill

All GTN functions are not accessible from the knobs. You can change frequencies and enter waypoints with the knobs, but the touch screen is used to select the operations. Using the GTN750 touch screen is easier than using the knobs IMHO, even in turbulence. If the touch screen fails in flight, you can always press and hold the home button to get to the Map page, press the direct-to button to enter a waypoint using the knobs for navigation, and press and hold the volume control to select the emergency frequency 121.5 for the active Com frequency. The hand holds on the sides of the display make for easy operation in turbulence.

The GTN is a full feature MFD and supports terrain and obstacle display, VFR and IFR map display with special use airspace depiction and information, support for graphic flight planning, airways, option for Jeppesen approach chart display including taxi charts with own aircraft position on the charts, sensor support for TAS-TCAS traffic systems including the Avidyne 605, WX500 stormscope support, support for the GSR 56 satellite receiver for NEXRAD (this is not yet announced as available on the GTN), other weather products and Satphone, Garmin GWX70 radar display, air data inputs, remote audio panel and transponder support.

I would not consider the GNS series at this time and would rule out the GTN650 as too small and not having a user friendly interface.

KUZA, United States

That 650 v 430W comparison is obviously rigged to show the 650 in the best possible light.

In terms of what is actually useful... airway entry is a good one, but this depends on where your Eurocontrol route is coming from. If it contains a lot of DCTs then airway entry doesn't help.

One also needs (in my case, anyway) to consider this in the light of having a second big display device for the route etc - the MFD. Somebody flying with just one thing will find a GTN650 way better than a GNS430/W. But once you have an MFD, the GPS might as well be a simple monochrome text-only box. If the KLN94 had a PRNAV AFMS and did RNAV SIDs/STARs and LPV (it does have a vertical output, which was never implemented in the software) I would not spend a penny changing it.

I have a feeling that this upgrade job will come down to a GNS430W+EX600 or a GTN750.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom


We have made the switch in our 2001 T182T from KLN94/KMD550/KX155 to GTN750 and never regretted it. It also plays well with the other kids in the panel: KAP140, KCS55, JPI830 etc. Should your travels bring you to the Cologne area I'd be more than happy to show you our setup. I can also show you how to retrieve USD10k from your old kit.

BR mrfacts


I can also show you how to retrieve USD10k from your old kit

I guess that is possible... KLN94 KMD550 KX155A would fetch $10k on a (very) good day, in the USA.

However I have just sold my KCS55 system to a buyer in the USA for $2.5k... I guess it's a scenario with different alternatives.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I think of you have an MFD the 650 is good as essentially your FMS. The best differences I found were airways entry, graphical depiction of procedures, the touchscreen is far faster for entering waypoints than the knobs. Given it will shortly be given ad hoc holds and some more features, I think it is far superior to the 430w.

If you don't have an MFD then the 750 is FMS and MFD in one.

EGTK Oxford

Calling it "FMS" is a good description. An FMS is a textual interface box. That's how my KLN94 gets used. It does have a map (on the Nav 4 page) but it's useless - almost as useless as the GNS430 map.

Actually the biggest plus would be a direct and easy electronic loading of a complete route, from some portable device. What is the proposed IFD support for that?

The GTNs and everything else currently out employs an awkward method whereby you write the route onto a flash card and then plug the card into the GPS.

I recall recently reading an account of this whereby it was actually very messy (not sure if it was here or in an email) and anyway the flash card connector is not going to last very long if you do this for every individual flight. Those connectors are probably good for (of the order of) 1000 insertions.

Garmin killed the Aspen "Connected Panel" initiative by securing the crossfill protocol (which Aspen reverse engineered) so I don't see any flight plan loading solution appearing for the GTNs. But it is possible on the GNS.

Allegedly the G480 has an IR (infra red) interface whose purpose was stuff like flight plan loading but it was never activated, and then Garmin bought the company and shut it down.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Well I use the G1000 SD card method for flightplans. Once you have airways it really isn't that much faster and I have gone back to entering by hand. I agree a wifi connection would be better but it isn't happening on my plane so nothing I can do. I agree the 650 is more textual but it does have good graphical representation of holds and approaches that can be previewed. Not a big screen but I found it better than the Avidyne Entegra MFD for that sort of thing (it shows curves for example). Its resolution is also much better than the 430.

EGTK Oxford

That 650 v 430W comparison is obviously rigged to show the 650 in the best possible light.

I agree. Most of it is just the same feature - "it has a higher-resolution touch screen with a more modern interface". They were desperate to come up with a long list.

I think it is far superior to the 430w (JasonC)

From a mission capability point of view, I would not call it vastly superior, or superior at all. It does not do anything over a GNS430 that I would spend significant money on. For new equipment I would go for the newer one primarily because of longevity, the much shorter start up time [every GNS430W pilot should have "set ATIS on COM2 and start-up frequency on COM1 and check volumes in their shot down checks]. The missing CDI button makes me a bit uncomfortable, though - if for some reason the GTN does not auto-switch to the ILS, it is two buttons on the GNS430 (Nav flip-flop, CDI button), on the GTN it is push frequency knob - tap on NAV frequency - push Menu - Tap Default Nav - Tap CDI - not something I want to do when intercepting the localizer. Or is there a better way?

Biggin Hill

The GNS430W with an EX600 would be a mistake in today's environment. The GNS430W is at the end of its production life and very little new capability will be added. As time moves on, maintenance support will become an issue. I asked Garmin why they came out with the GTN series so soon as there still isn't any viable competition to the GNS430W/530W available to install in an airplane as of today. The answer was that they couldn't support new production and maintain the install base as they had to make their last production run buys from their suppliers years ago. Most of the basic components are the same that were produced 14 years ago in 1999.

Regardless, when you finally upgrade to stuff designed in this century (literally), you will see the benefit of roll steering that you have been missing. I know you think you have essentially the same capability with your auto slew, but it will be interesting to hear your evaluation or reevaluation once you have upgraded. Here in the US, the song went after WWI about the GI's when they returned from the war, how are you going to keep them down on the farm after they've seen Paree.

KUZA, United States
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