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Garmin G1000 versus Avidyne Entegra

You're here because you want to know which glass cockpit is better and/or easier to use: the Garmin G1000 or the Avidyne Entegra. And yes we have the answer! Both glass cockpits are MUCH better than traditional cockpits, and both have the potential to greatly enhance safety and improve the general aviation accident rate. There are no losers in this analysis; you will love whichever one you chose and you will greatly benefit from it.

The more you know about glass cockpit technology, the more you're going to like the technology (according to a FSU study). To read on line about the benefits of glass cockpit technology and of the G1000 in particular, read the first 2 chapters of Max Trescott's G1000 Glass Cockpit Handbook online. You can also learn to operate the G1000 using our new Max Trescott's Garmin G1000 CD-ROM Course. Or, you order the CD-ROM course by calling 800-247-6553. The price is $99.95 plus shipping. You can also view a free 5 minute sample of the CD-ROM course online. Then when you're ready to fly one, look up a G1000 rental location and rent one of these awesome airplanes.

Here's a summary of certified aircraft and the Glass Cockpits that they offer:

Manufacturer Garmin G1000 Avidyne
Adam Aircraft   X
Beechcraft X  
Cessna X  
Cirrus   X
Columbia X X
Diamond X  
Eclipse   X
Mooney X  
Piper   X
Symphony (bankrupt)   X
Tiger (bankrupt) X  

Which is Easier to Use: Garmin G1000 or Avidyne Entegra
I've had this discussion with dozens if not a hundred people and have read many analyses of the two systems. Most people feel fairly strongly about which system is easier to use and have their own particular explanations for why. Surprisingly, people are fairly evenly split between which is easier to use. In almost every case, people admit that the easier system for them to use is also the first one they learned to use. Does this sound the like the high-wing versus low-wing argument? Transition times for either system require about 3-5 hours of flight time for VFR competency. Additional time is needed for IFR competency.

Software Simulators
One of the best ways to learn these glass cockpit systems is to use the manufacturer's software simulators. Avidyne announced in April, 2006 a free simulator for the Entegra which can be downloaded from their website. Their simulator doesn't include the PFD, but does include the EX5000 MFD (used in most Avidyne glass cockpits) and the smaller, aftermarket EX500 FlightMax. The Garmin G1000 software simulator includes both the PFD and MFD and can be purchased for a small price from Garmin.

G1000 Advantages
The G1000 allows you to aviate, navigate and communicate all from the Primary Flight Display (PFD) screen on the pilot's side. Therefore you can enter flight plans and tune radios with out looking away from the flight instruments, which is a big advantage when flying IFR. Should the PFD fail, the G1000 system allows you to transfer the primary flight instruments to the Multifunction Display (MFD) on the copilot's side of the aircraft. With Avidyne, should the PFD fail, you'll need to use the round standby gauges.

Avidyne Entegra Advantages
The typical Avidyne system has four pieces of glass: a PFD, MFD and two Garmin 430 GPS receivers. Thus, there's more redundancy. Lose the PFD and you'll still have 3 other devices that can display a moving map. This also allows you to display a dedicated traffic map on one GPS, a Stormscope or terrain page on another GPS, while viewing a topographical map on the MFD. With the G1000, you can either combine these features to display simultaneously on the MFD or you can switch between dedicated page views for each.

Common Features
There are more common features between the systems than there are differences. Both PFD layouts are based on NASA's SATS research from the early 1990's. Tape displays are use for airspeed and altitude, which are located along the left and right sides of the displays respectively. A large attitude indicator is located in the upper center, and the entire width of the PFD displays a 10-inch long horizon that tilts as the aircraft banks. An HSI, which combines a Directional Gyro and a CDI needle, is below the attitude indicator. The vertical speed indicator is to the right of the altitude indicator.

Both systems use the MFD to display the following features:

– Topographical Map
– Traffic Display of TIS or TAS derived traffic [TIS data comes from a mode-S transponder - TAS is an active system that interrogates nearby transponders.]
– Stormscope lightning data
– XM Satellite data link weather
– Terrain Proximity or TAWS

Other Features
Other features include a wind vector that indicates the direction and strength of the winds your aircraft is currently experiencing--you'll love this information as you fly an ILS. Speed bugs on the airspeed tape show you Vr, Vx, Vy and best glide speeds, making it easy to remember and maintain a given airspeed. These came out first on the G1000 and recently became available on Avidyne's Rev. 6 upgrade. Bearing pointers on the HSI (two for the G1000 and one for the Avidyne) allow you to monitor other nav aids in addition to the one displayed on the HSI's CDI needle.

Fuel totalizers track fuel consumption and remaining fuel. Engine monitors display EGT and CHTs for each cylinder and provide assistance for leaning. Weather data is extensive and includes: NEXRAD radar, satellite imagery, AIRMETs and SIGMETs, winds aloft, METARs and TAFs. All glass cockpit aircraft have the option for an autopilot. Most planes are ordered with one, and flight training emphasizes use of the autopilot.

Avidyne systems are tightly integrated with the autopilot, and you can use the PFD to set target altitudes and read autopilot status. However, there are no tones if you wander off the selected altitude. Some G1000 systems (e.g. Columbia and Beechcraft) have fully integrated autopilots, while for others you must set target altitudes and read status information on the autopilot--though you do get warning tones if you deviate from your target altitude. The Avidyne target altitude can be set with 10 foot resolution versus 100 foot resolution on the G1000.

The G1000 includes a graphical fuel range ring which shows you the distance you can travel in any direction until your reach your reserve fuel or until you reach fuel exhaustion. This makes it easy to make power and leaning adjustments if you want to stretch your fuel to avoid an extra stop.

The Avidyne displays instrument procedure charts and taxiway diagrams and you can actually see the position of your aircraft on the charts. The G1000 is expected to release this capability very soon.

The G1000 displays flight plans on both the PFD and MFD. The Avidyne display some information about the active waypoint on the PFD and MFD, but to modify or view the entire flight plan you need to look down and to the right at one of the Garmin GNS 430s.

Switching pages on the Avidyne's MFD requires a single knob. Pages on the G1000 are grouped into page groups, and two concentric knobs are used; one to select the page group and the other to select the particular page within the group. The G1000 has a map pointer so you can easily view any portion of a displayed map. The Avidyne only allows you to change the range on the MFD and the map always remains centered relative to your airplane position (you can scroll around the Garmin 430 maps, though these are much lower resolution than the MFD).

The Avidyne displays engine data directly on the PFD (versus on the MFD for the G1000) and displays the percent of engine power. For the G1000, you need to pull out the POH to determine the percentage of power. The Avidyne has a full screen engine page on the MFD. The G1000 spreads the engine instruments across three separate screens, except for in the Columbia 350i and 400i, which have a full screen engine System page on the MFD.

The Garmin G1000 has a clearance recorder built in to the audio panel that records the prior 2 1/2 minutes of radio transmissions. To hear the most recent transmission, press the "Play" button once; to hear the next most recent transmission press it twice.

When loading ILS instrument approaches, the Garmin G1000 sets the HSI's CDI needle to the inbound course for the localizer. On the Avidyne, you must remember to set the CDI needle, otherwise the system may think you're flying the approach as a back course and the autopilot will track the course in the opposite direction from what you intended.

Both the Garmin G1000 and the Avidyne use the XM Satellite weather service and deliver essentially the same services. However, the way the services are displayed is very different. For example, all of the weather services for the G1000 can be found on a single weather page, and some of those services (such as NEXRAD radar) are also available on the main navigation map page. On the Avidyne, you won't find all of the weather services on one page. For example, for METARs, go to the Trip page or Nearest page. For NEXRAD radar, go to the Map page.

The Best Glass Cockpit System is......
You cannot go wrong with either of these systems. Both improve situational awareness and greatly enhance safety because of their traffic and terrain proximity systems and the reduced workload of using a sophisticated autopilot. Once you learn to fly one of these systems, you will NOT want to go back and fly an older aircraft, particularly on longer cross-countries or in IMC. Glass cockpit systems are truly the superior way to fly an airplane, which is why the airlines have used them for more than a decade. So the Winner is....

You--if you choose to learn and fly these systems.

March 2010:
New iPhone GPS Guides available for the Garmin 430 GPS and for the Garmin aera 500, 510, 550 and 560. Use as self-learning guides and quick reference checklists.