The march of integration at Garmin continues, and the latest piece in the high-tech toolbox is the company’s update of its portable datalink receiver, the GDL 39, which now tacks “3D” onto its name. The new box is identical in appearance to the previous model but boasts a high-quality solid-state attitude sensor to go with the ADS-B receiver. Both can be used only with Garmin Pilot, an all-in-one iOS and Android app that gives you everything from moving-map displays to geo-referenced charting and much, much more.
I flew a beta version of the unit in the Cirrus back to Austin (KEDC) from Garmin’s home airport, New Century (KIXD) in Olathe, Kansas, on my 3rd generation Apple iPad. There’s not a lot to say about the AHRS, except that it works great. It got its bearings quickly and once up to speed, if there was any lag, I couldn’t spot it. One great thing about the “3D” sensor is that it’s integrated right into Garmin Pilot, so there’s no need to go to a separate app to get the gauges.
Right now the display is of steam gauges, but Garmin plans in the near future to roll out a synthetic-vision version that will closely approximate its panel-mount PFD products. As with the previous-gen GDL 39, the 3D version integrates beautifully into Garmin Pilot, so all of the ADS-B weather products available, from Nexrad to winds aloft, are available on airport information pages, on the moving map and on dedicated weather pages. The GDL 39 goes for $899 with the battery pack, and is available now at Garmin retailers.
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