In my 28 years here at the magazine I have never seen a new airplane or new avionics system cause as much excitement as Garmin's new G1000 glass cockpit system has. Diamond and Cessna have already announced that they will offer the system, and other manufacturers are certain to follow soon. When Cessna unveiled an optional G1000 cockpit in the 182 and 206 models for 2004, dealers ordered more than 300 airplanes in an hour. The G1000 seems almost too good to be true because it will cost no more than the conventional avionics it replaces in the Cessnas.
The excitement surrounding the G1000 is that it does, well, just about everything. Avionics people call this integration. What it really means is that all elements of the avionics and other electronics in the airplane are part of a single seamless system, all from the same manufacturer, and all communicating with a common language. That may sound simple, but true integration has only recently been achieved in multimillion dollar jets with systems such as Honeywell's Primus Epic and Collins' Pro Line 21. And now the G1000 delivers a truly integrated cockpit at a single-engine price.
The dominant feature of the G1000 is the pair of huge 10.4-inch flat-panel displays. The left display shows all information needed for instrument flying, while the multifunction display to the right shows engine and system information, plus maps, terrain, weather radar and so on. And, just like the latest large displays in the business jets, the G1000 primary flight display (PFD) can open windows to show traffic, terrain, flight plan data and so on.
Bolted to the rear of the two large displays are the electronics that handle navigation, communication, transponder, terrain awareness, traffic detection, cockpit weather link, and soon, autopilot functions. The system also has its own attitude heading reference system (AHRS) and air data computer that replace all mechanical gyros and air data instruments. If there isn't room behind the panel, as is the case in some airplanes, the electronic modules can be remotely mounted and communicate via an ethernet data bus.
Some of what's in the G1000
• Dual 10.4-inch diagonal measure color flat-panel displays
• Advanced attitude and heading reference system (AHRS)
• Digital electronic air data computer
• Dual 16-watt comm transceivers
• Dual VOR/ILS receivers
• Flight management system (FMS)
• WAAS-upgradeable GPS
• Mode-S transponder with traffic information service (TIS)
• Engine and fuel gauges with checklists
• Worldwide terrain and obstacle database
• Weather datalink capability
• Rack-mounted line replaceable units (LRUs)
• Connected into a single system via ethernet