I have and always will be a huge fan of Garmin GPS units. I teach Garmin training classes and do 1-2-1 training all over the U.S. The 430/530 series in many ways brought ease of use in an affordable unit to general aviation. I think that the 430/530 series will be in service for many years. There are also five big reasons I am upgrading to the Avidyne IFD440.
Hybrid touch allows the user to combine the familiar buttons/knobs with the new touchscreen technology if they want to. The best parts of using an iPad, like dragging flight plan lines and pinch/zoom are built in. Unlike other touchscreen units though, you can use the screen or the knobs for every function without going through multiple menus to quickly access what you need.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are built in. The Avidyne IFD440 & 540 has both built in to every unit. This allows easy connectivity to popular iPad programs and at the same time lets you use a wireless keyboard! Yes, you read that right. Forget turning the knobs 100 times to enter a flight plan. Pull out the wireless keyboard and enter even complex flight plans much faster and easier.
Geo-Fill is one of the biggest step-ups to make flight plans easier and faster to enter. Every time I flied a flight plan from KLGB to SMO, the Santa Monica VOR, my trusty G430 always asks if I want the SMO VOR several hundred miles away in Mexico. It always adds just one more step to select the one, which is only 19 miles away. The Avidyne IFD440/540 has a logic chain built in that will always suggest the waypoint that is closest to your flight plan leg or present position. It seems like a small change, but it really makes flight planning much faster.
Radio communication is made easier. Decoding and display of radio names will reduce radio mistakes. It will be pretty hard to transmit on the wrong frequency when below the frequency it lists the name of the station displayed. For instance below 128.800 it will say Boston Twr. The system also allows easier standby tuning.
All of the above are great reasons to upgrade my unit, but the biggest reason is the instant upgrade. Avidyne calls it Plug N Play. I call it immediate gratification. Slide the G430 out, slide the IFD440 in, set-up 2 configuration pages and you’re done. When I installed the G430 my airplane was at the avionics shop for two weeks. When I install the IFD440 my airplane will be done in 10 minutes. OK, maybe 20, I will need to get some logbook entries and print out some supplements for my AFH. The Avidyne IFD 440/540 series are designed to use the same tray, wiring, connections and cables as the Garmin 430/530 series you are replacing. This makes the installation of every other touchscreen “upgrade” navcomm units seem slow and expensive.
As I stated in the beginning, I will always remain a fan of Garmin and the innovations that they have brought to make aviation better and safer. On the other hand, you may find me camped outside next to my mailbox waiting for my new awesome Avidyne IFD 440. Is it here yet?? What do you look for when you upgrade your avionics? Let me know in the comments, and as always, fly safe!
About the author:
Gary D Reeves, ATP, Master CFI, CFII,MEI has been teaching for over ten years and has over 6000 hours including turboprop experience. He is the 2016 FAA Instructor of the Year for the SW Region(CA, AZ, NV, HI). As a national expert in IFR Training, Garmin Avionics, iPad use, Mountain Flying and aviation safety he is a lead rep for the FAA Safety team and founded the volunteer group PilotSafety.org If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please visit www.PilotSafety.org, or contact him directly at GaryR@pilotsafety.org.