Smart Glass Panel Upgrades

How to cut maintenance costs and increase system reliability.

Commander
Now might be the time to upgrade to a new-generation glass display.Aspen Avionics

If you’re still flying behind mechanical instruments (a.k.a. steam gauges), odds are good that, probably sooner than later, one of them is going to fail. And you can only hope it will happen on a bright and sunny day. But no matter, a failed flight instrument means a trip to the avionics shop for a repair or replacement. And that can be a very expensive proposition.

Even if the unit can be repaired or overhauled, chances are good it will have to be sent back to its manufacturer. Few avionics shops today still do bench work and most of those don’t specialize in instrument repairs. Sending the unit back to the OEM is no big deal, it just means more AOG time.

But what if it can’t be repaired economically? Then you’re faced with replacing it with an overhauled or new unit, if it’s still available. And you can pretty much figure that the cost of the replacement instrument hasn’t come down.

This is about the time when you have to ask yourself: “Well, if my ADI (or HSI) has failed, maybe now is the time to upgrade to a new-generation glass display.” Good point! After all, you can replace either of your primary mechanical flight instruments with a multifunction unit like the Aspen Evolution Electronic Flight Display (EFD) for about the same price as a new stand-alone unit.

With this one simple panel upgrade, you have not only enhanced your panel with the unmatched display flexibility and reliability of a new-generation electronic glass display, you’ve eliminated any mechanically related recurrent repair costs. You just know that if your HSI quits today, it won’t be long before your ADI or your vacuum system follows.

As much as we all want to make sound financial decisions when it comes to aircraft maintenance, sometimes trying to repair legacy instruments or avionics is just throwing good money after bad. In fact, if you play your cards right, it could well be an easy sell to your “significant other.”

Once you tell them about all the situational awareness enhancing benefits of a glass upgrade, like synthetic vision, angle-of-attack indicators, moving maps, and weather, traffic and terrain/obstacle warnings – well, who can say no to more safety? Plus, a new avionics package comes with a full warranty. No more surprise maintenance bills. That’s two in the win column.

Another incentive doing an upgrade over a repair is it will add to the value of your airplane. And it’s real value. With your new glass displays, you’ll be encouraged to get out and fly more – and spending more time in the air is the only true value of any airplane.