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Avionics upgrade

(By the way: Just checked that Rotterdam approach chart. Interesting! But what’s an "RNAV ILS " approach? I’ve never had one of those! Anybody know the right procedure for that?

I’ve never seen an ILS approach that requires an ADF. Or maybe i forgot.

You forgot it, because there are many. At least in Europe.

LDZA LDVA, Croatia

since nobody is flying an NDB approach

That’s because you missed out on a really excellent EuroGA fly-in

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

On the days when I fly to Losinj i don’t need an IFR approach :-) Did you fly it this way? I fly there and then I land :-)

I’ve flown this approach once for IR check ride

LDZA LDVA, Croatia

Ok, you convinced me. Next time I fly to Losinj I’ll put an ADF in the Cirrus ;-)

Hi Casimir,

I am just in the process of doing such an upgrade for gaining IFR. Your panel already has some good elements, such as the King Nav/Com, the DME and the ADF. For the reasons people have mentioned here, leave those in peace.

GNS430: You can get good second hand GNS430 units for about €5000.- / Avionic Straubing had some reconditioned units for sale at this price. Preferrably, you choose a 430W, as it has WAAS capability and is generally the more modern unit. These go for around 8000 Euros.

Transponder: Trigg TT31, no question. Good, cheap, has ADS-B out. Works very well. I did that a while back and am very happy.

Autopilot: S-Tec system 30 will give you all lateral modes and Altitude hold. The better AP is the S-Tec 55X, which adds full GPSS Steering, Glideslope coupling and Vertical Speed as well as a full Flight Director. As you already have electric trim, you do not need to upgrade that, unless you wish to have autotrim. S-Tec had a promotion last year which sold the 55X to anyone trying to order a 30 or 50 at promotional prices. Get offers. The big advantage of the 55x is that it is upgradable (depending on STC) to the Avidyne DCF 90 Autopilot by simply exchanging the computer. That AP is probably the best on the market these days.

Aspen EFD 1000: If you want a HSI and you get an AP, the Aspen is definitly the way to go. It is cheaper to buy than most HSI systems and a lot cheaper to install. I was offered a price for the installation of a used King HSI for 1000 Euros more than an Aspen installation (together with a S-Tec 55X) and of course the Aspen has much more capability.

IF you should go for this combination (Aspen and S-Tec 55X) make SURE that you get the Flight Director enabled. This will require a remote Display by S-Tec. It is 3000 US more but worth it. Also, if you do this combination, Straubing have developed a box which allows you to use the Aspen as an altitude preselect for the 55X. Get that too. (Works with the System 30 as well, but there out of manual Vertical Speed).

This is what I can see from where I am sitting, which will give you a pretty good IFR panel.

You might want to see if someone sells a 530W/430W combo, which is a really good set, and then get that installed instead of a single GNS430.

Otherwise, the Avidyne IFD540 is a really great set. If you have time, the IFD440 (replacement for the Garmin 430) is also a very good set, once it is released. See the test written in this forum.

Take your time and choose the variant which will give you the best for your money and at the same time give you a very stable and usable IFR platform.

LSZH, Switzerland

Hello Casimir,

The PA32 is a great aircraft with great usable load. But if you want to turn this plane into a serious and legal IFR aircraft you have to do a complete panel rebuild. I’m not sure but I fear that even the DME and the ADF have no TSO, which means they are for VFR only.

Before you start to invest a fortune into the Avionics, we are talking 60k Euro and more I suggest to buy a nice cheap moving map like the Garmin 695 plus maybe an iPad, install the Garmin with a Ram mount on the right side of the panel where you have plenty of space. That will make a huge difference and then fly the plane as much as you can.

After a year or two take a step back and then think what to do about the avionics and the plane. Either do a few VFR updates or if you want to go for real IFR touring you will be probably cheaper off buying another plane where someone else invested all his money.

I’m kind of working into avionics and you would not believe how many calls I get from owners who build their dream panel just to find out they put all the kit in the wrong aircraft! Buying all new avionics for a plane you just purchased is probably like marring a girl right after the first date…

Otherwise, the Avidyne IFD540 is a really great set. If you have time, the IFD440 (replacement for the Garmin 430) is also a very good set, once it is released. See the test written in this forum.

These are available for N reg only at this time, so no use in an EASA reg aircraft.

You might want to see if someone sells a 530W/430W combo, which is a really good set,

In most cases this will be a major change under EASA, so no option either. This combo will be to expensive due to paperwork.


I find myself very disturbed buy what Jesse is saying. Why is fitting two well proven modern units a " major change " ?

It would seem to me that it should be a major increase in safety to replace the older and unreliable equipment with modern and easy to use equipment that gives the pilot better situational awareness.

But Oh no ! In EASA land they effectively prohibit this with outlandishly high certification costs.

It would seem to all right thinking people that EASA is failing to do its job and is not helping increase safety.

In any other profession this would be seen as negligence by inaction and should an accident happen the top management would find itself in court.

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