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 “Regarding King Airs and Citation Excels, in my opinion, the best avionics modification one can perform is a G1000 install in a King Air or a G5000 in a Citation Excel. There is a much better return on investment on these types
of installs as opposed to partial
panel modifications.”
– Gary Brown, avionics/operations manager, Stevens Aerospace and Defense
 Upgrades for the Long Run
“The first thing to do, no matter what your goal is, would be to fix what- ever issues you have with inoperative instruments or avionics that are in the aircraft now,” stated Mark Lee, president, Carpenter Avionics. “A cover plate is much better than an inopera- tive box. Any prospective buyer will assume the worst with regards to how much it will cost to replace that unit.”
“Once those issues are addressed, if the owner is planning on keeping the aircraft for a long time, then their avionics upgrade should be driven by equipment that will make their typi- cal flight safer and more enjoyable,” he added. “To them, whatever that upgrade is, it’s adding value.”
Too true. Even with software up- grades, avionics technologies and ca- pabilities are advancing so quickly that once the unit is in the panel for any length of time, it will probably have little to no value uptick at sales time. Lee said that to maximize the ROI of your avionics upgrade, it needs to fulfill an immediate need or goal. The upgrade can be as simple as adding a couple of USB outlets into the panel to power your iPad (an addition any pilot would value) or as complex as adding a touchscreen PFD or new autopilot. If the upgrade fulfills an immediate need or desire, then it’s adding value to you.
No matter your direction, Lee stressed that you need to be strategic in your thinking regarding your up- grade plan. It’s a big mistake to start adding components into the panel without clear short- and long-term goals in mind.
For example, let’s say you want to improve your IFR skills by adding one of the amazing new touchscreen GPS navigator units from Garmin or Avi- dyne. Which one is your best choice? Your knee-jerk reaction may be just to say Garmin. (Isn’t it the solution to everything?) But, depending on your situation, brand-G may not be your best course of action.
“The Garmin GTN TXi is a stellar GPS navigator, and its interoperability is best when it’s working with other Garmin units. Mixing it with avionics from other vendors can be done, and
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it is done, though it may not interop functions with the other gear that it has with other Garmin units,” Lee says. “If you plan to change more of your avionics to Garmin, then it’s a great foundation unit.”
“If you have a panel of solid avionics units now that aren’t Garmin, and you don’t have the plan or budget to do a full-on upgrade, then the Avidyne IFD may well be your better solution,” he continued. “It has a great flight man- agement system, and it’s very com- patible with many different kinds of avionics and autopilots. It will deliver
its full array of capabilities without having to remake your panel totally.” Lee said that with all of the variables regarding installing and integrating new-generation avionics with legacy systems, the best first step is to contact an established avionics dealer and get
their professional guidance.
Like anything, though, do your
homework, make sure the shop is es- tablished and has a level of experience with the various brands of avionics and your aircraft’s make and model. There may be installation or integration is- sues that an inexperienced shop has

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