Garmin Options Start with Not Ditching Your G430 or G530

Garmin issued a service advisory regarding the service life of its legacy products in January.

Despite reports that the hugely popular Garmin GNS-series navigators are at the end of their service life, Garmin says that 99 percent of GNS users can keep using their units. [Courtesy: The Aviation Consumer/screenshot]

A service advisory issued by Garmin on January 4 threw some operators of its legacy products into a tailspin, inclusive of conspiracy theories about planned obsolescence.

No one should be surprised at the situation. Garmin has been whispering about this possibility for a handful of years.

Unfortunately, the verbiage of the advisory was a typical chalk-dry narrative written in legalese, so some folks cut to the wrong chase.  

As an operator of the affected equipment, this development is near and dear to my heart. But don’t take my word for it, listen to colleague Larry Anglisano at our sister publication, The Aviation Consumer

After reengaging with GA as an airplane owner and airline guy a few years back, I was ecstatic that drawing a line with a No. 2 pencil on a sectional chart would no longer be in my future. I could now just follow a magenta line. Wow.

The reason for curtailing support of the GNS 430 and GNS 530 simply became a parts supply issue. It is no longer viable for vendors to produce the parts for 25-year-old technology when the market has a dramatically increased demand for the new technology. Essentially, the old units would have to be redesigned with new innards, so what’s the point?  

That said, Garmin hoarded what remained of the supply.

The GNS 430 is most affected because the nuts and bolts module that drives the display are no longer available. The cover glass or lens of the display, however, is still replaceable. The bezel, buttons, knobs, etc. can still be replaced along with the repair of other functionality issues—at least as long as supplies last. So far, the GNS 530 display can be replaced in addition to the items mentioned above. Garmin will also continue to support the data bases.

If your G430 or G530 is repairable, a flat fee starting at $2,000 will be charged. If the unit is not repairable, you’re given the option of having it returned as a doorstop for an assessment fee of $500. Or you can tell Garmin to keep it, and the company will give you a $650 credit toward the new units. 

The good news is that sending in a unit with an operable display grants you an opportunity to trade it in on Garmin’s new products with a rebate that ranges from $1,000 to $1,750. 

Food for thought: eBay lists GNS 430’s from around $3,000 to $7,500, depending upon whether it is WAAS equipped. The GNS 530 lists in the range of $4,500 to $10,000. It’s hard to say exactly the price that these units are actually selling for, or if they’re actually marketable, considering the support circumstances.

Legacy Unit Gamble

Last week while attending the Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo, I spoke with Garmin sales manager Jim Laster, who said the company’s concern is the gamble of airplane owners waiting until their legacy unit breaks. Is it repairable or does it become junk?

Although Garmin’s new replacement products can be available to ship the next day, the real concern is how long does that airplane owner have to wait for the avionics shop to schedule an installation? Some shops are six to nine months out.

What are the options? If you simply want to replace the functionality of losing the G530 or the G430, purchasing a GPS 175 Navigator together with a GNC 215 Nav/Com might be the easiest solution. Both units combine on your panel to an area only about three-quarter of an inch taller than a G430, with one a GPS and the other a radio. The combined sticker price is $11,190.

But wait, there’s more. Although the model units mentioned above are new technology with touchscreens and high-resolution displays, forking over $13,795 will buy you a GTN 650xi, which includes features not available on the GTN 175 and GNC 215. The features are too numerous to mention, but suffice it to say, you have to determine if the extra $2,605 is worth it.

The final option is to go all out and buy the GTN 750xi for $19,995. The unit has a larger display screen and is about 3 inches taller than a G530. Decisions. Decisions.

At the end of the day, maybe your current budget is to wait until the G530 or G430 completely breaks. That’s my plan, but it could certainly change. At least Garmin has options. Unfortunately, none of them are cheap.

Les Abend
Les AbendAuthor
Les Abend is a retired, 34-year veteran of American Airlines, attempting to readjust his passion for flying airplanes in the lower flight levels—without the assistance of a copilot.

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