If one-stop shopping for your database updates sounds too good to be true, well, you’re still mostly right. But for some owners, the time has arrived, thanks to a program from Jeppesen and Garmin called PilotPak that lets select owners pay for one database subscription and install it on all of their panel-mount units.
PilotPak still has a limited customer set; for now it applies solely to owners of airplanes with late-model Garmin avionics to get single-database pricing for their multiple Garmin products. An airplane owner who has a GTN 750 and 650 along with a G500 PFD/MFD would pay for one database instead of three. The cost savings could be dramatic. With the three-database configuration described above, the annual cost of database subscriptions would drop by as much as 70 percent.
The idea is not new — owners of Cirrus airplanes, among others, with dual Garmin GNS430s have gotten discounted pricing for several years, but a broader program has been remarkably difficult to implement. Jeppesen’s Tim Howard, senior manager of OEM business, told Flying that the project took months of behind the scenes work to accomplish, in part because of the sheer numbers of combinations of avionics and databases involved, and that was with one company and a limited number of its products at that. The fact that each company, Jeppesen and Garmin, had different ways of delivering their data was another hurdle. In fact, Howard called the project, “one of the most complex and extensive database projects that we [Jeppesen] have ever embarked upon.”
For owners of airplanes equipped with a suite of new aftermarket Garmin products, the savings will be substantial. For those thinking about going with Garmin avionics, the potential savings will likely be a big factor in the buying decision.