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Flying the Garmin 1000 with Chris R. Burger

OVER THE past decade, “glass cockpits” have become pervasive in both scheduled and general aviation. They offer improved reliability and present flight-related information with clarity, brevity and flexibility.

Workload has decreased and situation awareness has improved, and quite possibly more than just a few mishaps have been prevented.

The transition started in military and then in airline cockpits. However, from the turn of the century, affordable glass cockpit technology has come to general aviation cockpits.

Avidyne’s Entegra captured almost 40% of production line glass cockpit installations for GA aircraft in 2005. Other early players included Rockwell Collins and Honeywell, both of which had offered high-end glass cockpit systems for larger aircraft, and Garmin, which was active in the avionics market. Its GNS-430 was already well established, and it also had a major presence in sports, outdoor and automotive applications.

Unlike the Entegra before it, which basically replaced the classic six-pack of airspeed indicator, attitude indicator, altimeter, turn coordinator, direction indicator and vertical speed indicator, the G1000 offered full integration of all aircraft systems, flight instruments and navigation into a seamless package.

For the first time, the pilot could find all the information on one screen and control all the functions in one place. And those functions were probably more powerful than those available to our airline cousins.

garmin 1000

The G1000 family has subsequently expanded to include several other members.

The G900 series is intended for experimental aircraft and the G600 series for retrofit to a growing list of existing certificated aircraft. Aircraft now being produced with G1000 suites include Beechcraft, Cessna, Cirrus, Diamond, Embraer, Mooney, Piper and Quest. G2000, G3000 and G5000 have been introduced for high-end jets and turboprops, and the G300 is a scaleddown version for light sport aircraft.

All these systems share a common user interface. What follows applies to all members of the family, with minor variations.


The G1000 is a computer. It measures flight parameters and position, then uses a navigation database to display the information to the pilot in a convenient format.

The Primary Flight Display (PFD), as the name suggests, is the screen on which all basic flight parameters are displayed. It sits directly in front of the pilot, just below the glareshield. It displays all the information previously available on the six-pack, and more.

The Multi-Function Display (MFD) is normally mounted to the right of the PFD, more or less on the centreline of the aircraft. It displays navigation information, weather, systems status and terrain.

A second PFD can be mounted in front of the right pilot seat for multi-crew operations.

The PFD and MFD are, in fact, identical units, fulfilling different functions. From a spare parts inventory point of view, there is major benefit in only having to stock one unit. The GDU1044B is a 265 mm screen with 1024x768 resolution, and communicates with other avionics modules through an Ethernet bus. Apart from the display screen, the unit also features user controls for all its functions, including the autopilot.

Apart from 12 simple pushbuttons along the lower edge of the screen, which correspond to individual menu choices, the GDU also features several rotatable knobs. Most of these knobs are concentric, and most of them have a push-button function, too. Most pushbuttons have a further function that can be invoked by holding it in for a second or two, as opposed to the primary function that can be accessed by just tapping it once.

garmin 1000

G1000 installation in Diamond DA42. Matthew Piatt photo

A grid of 12 pushbuttons in the lower half of the left bezel controls the autopilot. A GDU without these buttons is available for aircraft that do not feature the integrated GFC 700 autopilot. A further set of six pushbuttons at the bottom end of the right bezel controls the Flight Management System (FMS).

With more than one screen installed in the aircraft, the controls are completely interchangeable. The pilot or co-pilot (or instructor) can use the controls on whichever screen is most conveniently accessible.................................... For the FULL ARTICLE please subscribe to our digital edition.

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