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Will there ever be a day when steam gauge avionics have to be ripped out?

Yesterday I popped down to Zell am See, IFR in the Eurocontrol system, with this 1990s stuff

I didn’t cause ATC any trouble and the flight

was a smooth 4 hrs.

What is the point in spending tens of thousands on glass kit when the same spent on TKS will give you so much more capability? I departed into a low cloudbase and by the time I was on top at 2500ft, I collected 1mm of ice.

Does the market downgrade the selling price so much?

The only thing I wished for was a keypad for waypoint entry, but that was zero effort in the grand scheme.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Maybe so, if you have a choice between repairing 40-year old steam gauges and replacing them al with glass. Over time they will all be replaced.

Tököl LHTL

Maybe you can gain the useful load required to install TKS by replacing the steam gauges with glass. That would even make your plane more tail-heavy, thereby further increasing fuel efficiency.

The incentive for going glass is least with an aircraft at the very end of the evolution process of analogue instrumentation, such as Peter has. But imagine you have a plane that only has a DG – installing an Aspen comes cheaper than installing an HSI, not to mention all the additional capability, and voilà you are in the glass world.

Therefore, I think in the mid/long term most aircraft will be switched to aftermarket glass cockpits. The only problem is with rare or unsupported types (see eg. the thread on the metal Robins), where the regulator (stupidly IMHO) prevents such upgrades.

LOAN Wiener Neustadt Ost, Austria

blueline wrote:

The incentive for going glass is least with an aircraft at the very end of the evolution process of analogue instrumentation, such as Peter has. But imagine you have a plane that only has a DG – installing an Aspen comes cheaper than installing an HSI, not to mention all the additional capability, and voilà you are in the glass world.

Therefore, I think in the mid/long term most aircraft will be switched to aftermarket glass cockpits. The only problem is with rare or unsupported types (see eg. the thread on the metal Robins), where the regulator (stupidly IMHO) prevents such upgrades.

This is my situation. The only things working in the panel are DG, Airspeed and AI. How does the regulator prevent such upgrades for a Robin?

Last Edited by WhiskeyPapa at 19 Mar 09:15
Tököl LHTL

The regulators don’t prevent glass upgrades – it’s just the case that someone has to fund the certification. For example, the DR400 is not on either Garmin or Aspen FAA STCs as the aircraft doesn’t have an FAA TCDS so therefore isn’t on the corresponding EASA- validated STC. Nevertheless, there are European STCs (or even now TC changes) created by European design organisations. So if someone is prepared to fund it, it can be done. Cost can be spread if several owners can club together.

Avionics geek.
Fairoaks. EGTF

How does the regulator prevent such upgrades for a Robin?

You need an STC from the EFIS manufacturer (so basically today Garmin and Aspen) for your aircraft model. If it is rare or no longer supported by the factory (“orphaned aircraft”), chances are there is no STC. Then you would have to apply for a major change with EASA, which makes almost any installation economically unviable. Things may be a little bit easier with Annex II aircraft, but for this you would need to inquire with the CAA of your plane’s country of registration.

Your avionics guy – or the very knowledgeable @Jesse on this forum – should have all the details.

Last Edited by blueline at 19 Mar 09:22
LOAN Wiener Neustadt Ost, Austria

wigglyamp wrote:

The regulators don’t prevent glass upgrades – it’s just the case that someone has to fund the certification.

Oh come on, that’s just a play on words, if the regulators’ fees are such that any upgrade is economically infeasible, then that is preventing updates in practice.

Why should an Aspen behave differently in a (metal) Robin compared to a (metal) Piper or Cessna? It doesn’t make any sense.

Or take autopilots. Even Garmin deems it not economically feasible to obtain approvals for GFC700 retrofits, and Avidyne only has an extremely limited number of airplane models in their STC. So we’re flying around with antique autopilots from companies who got their approval many moons ago when certification regime wasn’t yet impossible, or even better with 5 transistor autopilots from 1970 with wrong gain resistors installed and thus only marginally stable.

So the certification regime actually reduces safety as it denies advanced features like envelope protection to the vast majority of the single engine pistons in service.

The swiss aeroclub recently calculated that a registry transfer of a transport category airplane (even between EASA registries) sets you back more in FOCA fees than the approval of an entirely new human drug costs in FOPH fees. This madness has to stop.

LSZK, Switzerland

Although I like fine mechanical instruments as essentially works of art and I find minimalist panels with classic instruments in VFR machines sexy (similarly to dashboards in classic cars), I don’t necessarily consider them practical choices. I prefer solid-state gyros to mechanical ones. I won’t even start on pneumatics. And it’s not like mechanical instruments are cheap (OTOH you don’t have to replace the entire six-pack when one breaks or needs to be overhauled). And PFDs can be space saving. Consider how many instruments the tiny Aspen replaces. That can be handy.

tomjnx wrote:

Why should an Aspen behave differently in a (metal) Robin compared to a (metal) Piper or Cessna? It doesn’t make any sense.

I agree on that. It would be more sensible if products would be certified for CS-23 for example, without listing all additional types. The current AML STC list so many so different aircraft, that this should be possible. It is so frustrating for example for a Slingsby T67, you can use the Aspen AML STC for all types, apart from one version with an engine which has never been on the FAA TCDS, so not on the AML STC. Exactly the same airframe, different engine, exactly same avionics installation, which is a no go.

Getting a custom made STC even with a group will always be much more expensive. With a rare aircraft it will be difficult to find a group of owners, all willing to invest in the same avionics.

JP-Avionics
EHMZ
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