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Garmin 430 Garmin 530 WAAS

The Garmin GNS 430 started shipping in 1997 and the Garmin GNS 530 was introduced a few years later. In December 2006, Garmin started shipping the Garmin 430W and 530W. Buying one of these new versions, or upgrading an existing unit, is an easy way to add WAAS capability to most any aircraft. Your radio shop will do the installation for you, verify that your antenna meets the new WAAS specifications, and fill out the required FAA 337 form. They'll also verify that the unit is located in a position that meets the FAA requirements for WAAS installations, or whether you'll need an external annunciator installed, which we'll discuss later.

We'll talk first about the many new features of the Garmin GNS 430W and Garmin GNS 530W, and then we'll talk about how you can upgrade existing Garmin 430 and Garmin 530 units with WAAS capability. If you want to learn more about WAAS in general, and about WAAS for the Garmin G1000 and Avidyne Entegra, visit our WAAS page.

YouTube Video Flying WAAS Approach


New Max Trescott's WAAS and GPS CD-ROM Course


The best way to learn these systems is to buy our new Max Trescott's WAAS and GPS CD-ROM Course. This new interactive, multimedia course which runs on Windows, Macintosh and Linux, teaches you to fly these approaches step-by-step, and shows you how many feet of obstacle clearance you have at ever point on the approach. Learn from two Master CFIs how to avoid the "gotchas" that can trick even experienced GPS pilots. Read more about the CD-ROM course and order it online. Or, you order the CD-ROM course, which runs more than 4 hours, by calling 800-247-6553. The price is $99.95 plus shipping.

Another good way to learn these systems is to use the Garmin 430W 530W simulator software. You can download this for free at www.garmin.com.

Garmin 430W and Garmin 530W
The "W" versions of these units are priced at about $1000 higher than the previous versions, but they come with a number of new features. First, the new WAAS receiver updates 5 times per second, as compared to the original units that update at just once per second. This helps you more precisely locate your position when flying an instrument approach. For example, if you were flying an approach at 75 knots, which is admittedly a little slow, but convenient for the math in this example, the older receivers would calculate your position once a second, or approximately every 125 feet as you proceed along the approach. By contrast, at a 75 knot groundspeed, the upgraded receiver calculates your GPS position every 25 feet, which is less than the length of most airplanes. Having information updated this frequently helps you more accurately fly the new, more narrow approach paths required when flying WAAS approaches.

Of course, the new "W" versions will also generate the glide path indications you need for flying precision GPS approaches. The system can also generate roll steering commands that allow an appropriately equipped autopilot to more precisely follow curved paths, such as a DME arc. If you have just a deviation autopilot, the roll steering information won"t be of much use, since these autopilots simply look for a signal, such as the one generated by your heading bug, that tells them to turn left or right. Roll steering goes further, in that it passes along information from the GPS to the autopilot that allows, for example turn anticipation, so that the aircraft rolls out exactly on the centerline of the next leg.

Also, and this is a big change, the "W" versions of these units can send the commands to an autopilot to automatically fly a procedure turn or a course reversal in a holding pattern. That makes flying an instrument approach via pilot navigation much easier than in the past. Once established in a hold, it will also continuously fly a holding pattern for as long as you'd like. Not only that, but the size of the holding pattern displayed is adjusted for aircraft speed, and the shape becomes asymmetrical to account for the winds aloft, as determined by the GPS.

Terrain information, which shows you whether nearby rocks are above or below you, is a potentially life saving feature that all pilots should use, particularly at night or anytime they are unsure of their position. The terrain feature, which became available for the Garmin 430 and 530 in late 2003, is shown on its own separate map page. Also, terrain in the "W" versions is displayed with a higher resolution than on previous units, which means that the grid used has smaller squares, so it's easier to see more precisely where the highest terrain is located.

In the past, the Garmin 430 and 530 had the capability to display XM weather when used with an external GDL69 receiver. We bet a lot of people didn't install this option since, of the fifteen weather products available from XM Radio, you could only display two, NEXRAD radar and METARS. Also, you couldn't display NEXRAD data for weather that was more than 250 miles away from your present location. This limitation was due to the older, slower microprocessor in those units. The new unit uses a faster processor, and you can now see weather for the entire United States, as well as display most of the weather products included in the "Aviator Lite" version of XM Radio's weather subscription.

Garmin has also added a new page that interfaces to XM Radio, so that pilots with the "A" version of the GLD69 can listen to the radio as they fly. It allows you to select from more than 100 channels, as well as view the title of the song and name of the artist to which you are listening. If you think that listening to the radio while flying a plane is going too far, let me assure you that it is a wonderful capability to have in an airplane, particularly if you fly longer distances.

Upgrading the Garmin 430 and Garmin 530
Ironically, these original Garmin 430 and 530 will soon become the most widely installed WAAS capable receivers. That's because more than 50,000 of these units have been sold in their ten-year history, and all of them are upgradeable to WAAS. One important thing you'll need to know is how to tell if a Garmin 430 or 530 in an airplane was upgraded and now has WAAS capability. The answer is that you need to look at the opening screen that's displayed. If it includes a "W," then you're flying with an upgraded unit.

Garmin has promised for a number of years that they would offer a WAAS upgrade to these units for a price of $1500. Originally, they requested that people sign up in advance for the upgrade, and press reports indicate that more than 15,000 units were registered. This long-awaited upgrade finally started to ship in early February 2007.

The process for upgrading is straightforward. Aircraft owners need to contact their avionics shop, so that the shop can submit your name, tail number and unit serial number to Garmin. Garmin will then provide a return number that is used to schedule the upgrade. At the appropriate time, your unit will be removed and return to Garmin, which has promised a three-day turnaround on upgrades. The unit will then be returned to your avionics shop along with a new GPS antenna. Your shop will install the unit and the new antenna in your airplane.

In general, the existing tray and wiring is pin for pin compatible with the new WAAS upgraded units, so it won't need to be changed. However, the existing antenna coax that runs from the tray to the GPS antenna may require replacement. The reason is that the WAAS installation manual states that the GPS antenna coax cable loss, including connectors, shall be between 3db and 7db, which is a tighter tolerance than was required on the original units. Also, the coax must be double shielded, so the use of some coax commonly used in the past is no longer permitted.

Finally, depending upon where your GPS unit is located in the cockpit, you may need an external annunciator installed. It turns out that the requirements in FAA TSO-C146a, are far more specific about receiver location than is TSO-C129a, which governs traditional GPS installations. Specifically, the left edge of the 430W can be no more than 11.8" from the pilot's primary view centerline, and the 530W cannot be more than 12.1" away. Also, the top of the 400/500 series unit can't be lower than the bottom edge of the primary flight instruments. If a unit falls outside of this specification, an external annunciator must be installed near the pilot to annunciate the various receiver modes. The required annunciators are: VLOC, GPS, INTEG, TERM, APR, MSG, and WPT.

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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.