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trip
Glass cockpit with touch screens
31 Dec 2021
EDLP; Paderborn-Lippstadt
Leg, Destination
  1   Paderborn

Flying a glass cockpit with touch screens

On the last day of the year, Maurits and René headed to Paderborn for a check-out on the C182 D-EJNG which was fitted with a glass cockpit with touch screens last summer.

The Cessna received a new paintjob, but the most important changes were inside the aircraft. All gyros and the classic instruments were removed in favor of a Garmin G3X solution. This included a configuration with a GDU 46X touch screen monitor and a G5 Attitude Display Indicator for the pilot and a vertical GDU 470 touch screen monitor for the co-pilot.

The radio stack consists of a GMA 345 audio panel, then a GMC 507 auto-pilot including track following, a yaw damper and climb capability based on the indicated airspeed. Furthermore a GTN 650 touch screen navigator for IFR operations, a GNC 255A advanced nav/comm radio and a GTX 335 transponder. Another nice feature is the addition of Traffic Avoidance (AT-1) which combines ADS-B and Transponder reception with a FLARM transmitter and receiver. The old BendixKing DME indicator was also returned to the panel.

Glass cockpit with touch screens
Glass cockpit with touch screens

Previously the G3X touch screen solution was only certified for experimental aircraft, but starting in 2019 Garmin achieved certification that approved installations in certified aircraft as well. The G3X can be operated with the touch screen and with knobs and buttons for basic functions. The system provides synthetic vision showing terrain and obstacles. The installed configuration integrates engine information, traffic information, the nav/comm radios, the G5 attitude indicator, autopilot, transponder, navigator and the displays in a single collective.

Our thanks go out to Chris, a former Lufthansa captain who had still flown in the B727 and ended his career with Lufthansa on the Airbus A350, who was good enough to come to the airport to introduce the new avionics. We had connected the aircraft to an external power source in the hangar so we could take our time going through the equipment in the comfort of the warm hangar.

D-EJNG with the new paint job
D-EJNG with the new paint job
Chris explaining the set-up
Chris explaining the set-up

Chris also mentioned the extra indicator on the hydraulic system that operates the landing gear that was also installed. The system indicates when the landing gear hydraulic pressure pump is activated to maintain hydraulic oil pressure. If the pump were to be continuously activated, there might be a leak. In case the hydraulic oil pressure is dropped too much then the manual gear pump will also not work, and when noticed in time without an abrupt immediate loss of pressure the landing gear can still be lowered.

After the explanation, we refueled and went for a little flight. There was a brisk wind from the south-west, and we taxied to runway 24 for a departure to the north. After gaining enough altitude we turned on the autopilot. We used the flight to go over various functions of the equipment in-flight.

Take-off runway 24 Paderborn-Lippstadt
Take-off runway 24 Paderborn-Lippstadt
A little maneuvering through the avionics
A little maneuvering through the avionics

The GX3 showed a brisk wind from the south-west of 51 knots at already low altitude. The heading and track varied quite a bit, which was well displayed by the instruments. Near Oerlinghausen, the traffic display we had selected showed traffic east of us.

Oerlinghausen airfield
Oerlinghausen airfield
Traffic on the selected traffic display
Traffic on the selected traffic display

We flew over the Porta Westfalica Gorge past the Emporer William monument to Minden. Maurits, who took the photos in the back, logged quite a few gliding hours along these hills.

North of the Wiehengebirge (Wiehen Hills), past the Minden Aqueduct over the River Weser, we followed the Mittelland Canal a short distance west. We had descended a bit to 2500 ft, which put us in the turbulence of the southwest wind over the Wiehen Hills. We climbed to 3500 ft by selecting this altitude and an indicated airspeed of 110 knots on the auto-pilot. It all worked nicely.

Emperor William monument at Porta Westfalica
Emperor William monument
Landing facing the sun
Landing facing the sun

On the way back to Paderborn, we selected Visual Reporting Point Echo on the Navigator, and activated this route in the GPS. René first tried twice in vain to click on the right place on the navigator's touch screen. Although the fingers were resting on the side, it was not easy to click in the right place. Maybe it is a matter of getting used to, but buttons and knobs provide a little more stability for the fingers to operate them.

We were instructed to make a right base runway 24. After passing Echo Point on the edge of the CTR we were given a clear to land. The low sun made it difficult to see forward, and there was also some wind and earlier gusts up to 25 knots were predicted in the TAF. René made the landing with a little too much speed.

Landing runway 24
Landing runway 24
Landed runway 24 Paderborn-Lippstadt
Landed runway 24 Paderborn-Lippstadt

After landing, we taxied back to the hangar. It was an interesting flight and the first time on an aircraft equipped with touch screen devices. There is still some rehearsing to do to get the hang of it. Not all functions are equally intuitive. In the engine indicator screen, for example, the fuel flow remained displayed in liters per hour although we had changed the settings to gallons per hour to be able to use the performance charts without conversions.

All things considered, it's an interesting set-up. Before we will make our next flight later in January we will rehearse the training material and manuals, and do some more dry flying on the PC Trainer.

Our flight also marked the last flight of the year for the aeroclub fleet.

Back at the hangar
Back at the hangar
Rene with the C182
Rene with the C182
Material used to prepare for the flight:
  • G3X Pilot Academy - Introduction (Garmin training on youtube)
  • G3X Pilot Academy - Autopilot (Garmin training on youtube)
  • Getting to Know the Garmin GFC 500 Autopilot (Garmin training on youtube)
  • GTN Navigator Training with Follow Along Scenarios (Garmin training on youtube)
  • Garmin G5 Electronic Flight Instrument (Garmin training on youtube)
  • G3X Touch Pilot's Guide
  • Flight Manual Supplement GFC 500 Autopilot with ESP for R182/TR182
  • GTN 625/635/650 Pilot's Guide
  • Garmin G5 Electronic Flight Instrument Part 23 AML STC Pilot's Guide
  • PC Trainer Suite for GTN, G500/G600 TXi, GDU 620, GNX 375, GNC 355/355A, and GPS 175 (used the GTN plus GDU module)
Unfortunately, there is no simulation software (yet) for the combination of G3X, GTN650 and GFC 500.

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