Flight Training — Same Fleet Avionics or Multiple Avionics Systems?

Aircraft Avionics

What type of avionics did you use during your flight training? One aspect that I have found to be very difficult for many students during their flight training is the use of avionics and automation management. Personally, the automation in our fleet at BGSU consists of Warriors with G500 Garmin 650, Avidyne with Garmin 430, Steam gauge with Garmin 430, Archers with Glass panel G1000, and Seminoles with Glass panel G1000 with autopilot. It is the university's plan to consolidate their fleet to an all Archer G1000 and Seminole G1000 fleet. So the question at hand is this: is fleet variation a benefit or disadvantage?

Hazard Consideration

  • Challenges (variation consistency and understanding)
  • Technical knowledge
  • Proficiency across avionics
  • Mode awareness
  • Expectation Bias
  • Pilot & Aircraft Experience level
  • Depth of knowledge/ familiarity
  • Situational awareness
  • Environment
  • Conditions of flight: Dual/Solo, Day/Night, IFR/VFR

Garmin 430’s are not WAAS equipped. Therefore, during instrument training, you can only use non-precision approach minima (Ex. LNAV). Garmin 650’s are WAAS equipped therefore during instrument training, you can use precision approach minima (Ex. LPV). For your Garmin avionics (650’s and 430’s) with dual GPS you can disconnect the “Cross-Fill” option and overlay two approaches. G1000 you are not given the option to disconnect the “Cross-Fill” option, therefore dual GPS overlaying isn’t an option. Different avionics have sometimes very different functions as well as ways to program.

Solution Consideration

  • Fleet continuity
  • Differences training
  • Aircraft equipment guide
  • Avionics supplements and online simulation tools
  • Initial and recurrent instructor Standardization
  • Flight simulator training
  • Emergency procedures training

Piston in Flight

I have always personally loved the challenge posed by learning different avionics. With some of the steam gauges, you can practice NDB approaches and learn firsthand compass errors. These are all things G1000’s don’t have. But I do actively see possible risks and importance to mitigation. As you all know, safety first is a must!

 Anthony Foxx, the U.S. Transportation Secretary stated in an FAA compliance policy that “Aviation is incredibly safe, but continued growth means that we must be proactive and smart... to detect and mitigate risk.” Establishing “proactive behavior” is about controlling a situation through progressive mitigation rather than responding after something undesirable has happened. Proactivity is not just for pilot risk mitigation but for community wellbeing. As for pilots in all levels of training, safety is a decision and a shared mindset that must be trained and maintained. 

Here are a couple of takeaways to think about.

  1. Fly the airplane… Aviate, Navigate, Communicate, then and only then automation. How can automation assist me? Do not let it degrade performance further.
  2. Make sure your habit formation in your training environment, is constantly improving and growing stronger.
  3. Maintain a high level of proficiency. You will get out of it what you put into it. Challenge yourself to understand the avionics and automation you are using.
  4. Lastly, Be the PIC! You are the final authority and the keeper of safety for that flight. Prepare and gain understanding accordingly for safe operation.

What do you think? Should there be the same fleet avionics or multiple avionics systems in a flight training environment?