The Future of Avionics Is a Card?

Garmin’s just-announced Flight Stream 510 multimedia card enables wireless GTN database uploads, flight plan transfers, ADS-B app support and more, without the need to install any new avionics hardware.

Garmin Flight Stream 510
The Flight Stream 510 MultiMediaCard packs a lot of technology into an SD-size card.Garmin

The next avionics breakthrough from Garmin has arrived. It looks like a typical SD card that you might use to upload navigation data to your GPS receiver, but it’s oh so much more than that. The Flight Stream 510 MultiMediaCard (MMC) provides wireless connectivity between the Garmin Pilot app and GTN 650/750 touchscreen navigators with no remote unit to install, no wiring and no antennas to worry about. Amazingly, this one tiny card does it all.

With Flight Stream 510 you can wirelessly update navigation databases in the cockpit, upload flight plans from the Garmin Pilot app to the panel-mount avionics (and vice versa), broadcast ADS-B traffic, weather and GPS information to the app and receive backup attitude information when paired with Garmin’s G500/G600 retrofit cockpit. The card slides right into the face of the GTN navigators and automatically syncs with your iPad or Android tablet when you enter the cockpit.

If you were to tell me the future of avionics would be an SD-size card and not yet another piece of expensive hardware, I would have had a hard time believing it, but here it is. The technology, developed by Garmin’s engineering team in Salem, Oregon, has been patented by the company.

Price for the Flight Stream 510 MMC is $1,495, which includes a one-year subscription to Garmin Pilot. A required GTN software update adds some nifty new features to the navigators, including over 300 voice commands (if you already have a Garmin GMA 35 or 350 audio panel) and pinch-to-zoom functionality. (The software update is free but you’ll have to pay your mechanic a few bucks to install it.)

Garmin has also simplified its database pricing with an option for navigation data, SafeTaxi, obstacles and terrain in the United States for $499 per year. Database transfer from a tablet to the avionics using the card’s built-in Wi-Fi capability takes just minutes, Garmin says. Flight plan transfer, meanwhile, is beamed using Bluetooth technology, also built into the Flight Stream 510 MMC.

Garmin has also introduced new database subscription tiers called OnePak that let customers update all the avionics in the cockpit plus one tablet device for one flat annual price. Annual OnePak pricing for the United States that includes Garmin FliteCharts is $799, a significant potential saving for customers who need to update a multitude of avionics.