I remember my first solo cross country in the late 60’s in a Piper Cherokee 140. I had a single VOR receiver, a compass and some sort of black and white instrument that was supposed to tell me where my wings were. My parents sat by the land-line telephone, anxiously waiting news from my instructor after each of my landings. Back then, we knew we were going to get lost. We just didn’t know HOW lost we were going to get. Many years later, along came a company called Garmin.
My, how times have changed.
Today, you can start flight instruction in all sorts of airplanes. But, most have Garmin avionics. Recently, I had the opportunity to spend five hours in my friend Larry King’s brand new Citation M2 and expose myself to the G3000 system.
I was impressed.
Garmin has done with G3000 what Apple did with the iPad. They have changed our behavior. And the cool thing about the G3000 system is how it is integrated into the airframe. Looking for the switch for the rotating beacon? You won’t find one on the panel. Instead, the G3000 powers up the beacon when you initiate the start sequence. Tired of reading confusing takeoff and landing charts? The system knows the airport elevation from the flight plan you entered. It knows the weather from the XM satellite broadcast. It knows your weight from airplane sensors. I think it probably knows if you left a bag in your car. At the touch of an icon on the GTC (Garmin Touch Controller), you can instantly have V-speeds posted on the PFD’s, see the crosswind component, display the takeoff distance and receive a warning if the chosen runway is too short.
Gone are the thirty individual caution and warning lights on the glareshield in previous CJ’s. They are replaced with a CAS message box on the PFD and are arranged in order of importance in case of multiple failures. Want to customize what I call the “pretty pictures” of the Garmin system? You can arrange charts, maps, weather, just about anything, in up to six panes on the screens. Want more info? Just display that on the two GTC’s on the lower pedestal. Tired of having to turn off your avionics during a battery start? The M2 has a separate battery so you can keep everything running. Forget to release the parking brake before takeoff? The CAS message sends you a “No Takeoff” warning. Not sure what the best climb speed is during a missed approach? The G3000 knows and will peg it when the autopilot is coupled.
As for the M2 itself, Williams installed a “chip” in the engine, like we did to our cars in high school, to make it 20 knots faster than the CJ-1+. I saw almost 400 knots at cruise in ISA conditions. And while fuel use is slightly higher at the faster speeds, range remains the same. Fewer switches and more situational awareness leads to a safer flight.
Above all the weather at FL 410, Larry said, “You know, if I didn’t have Garmin, I probably wouldn’t be a pilot.” That’s a strong statement but one that made sense.