While I’m a firm believer that primary flight training should be done in minimalist fashion on steam gauges, the reality is that a great number of aircraft are flown primarily by reliance on satellites, thanks to the advent of GPS for civilian use.
Effectively upgrading a typical aircraft on a real-world budget means considering the confluence of purchase price, installation cost and functionality.
At the onset of the panel upgrade project, we established three important parameters.
By adhering to these parameters (budget, upgradability and integration), we hoped to limit exposure to “scope creep.” As research commenced, every product decision would need to pass a litmus test of how it impacted the total upgrade budget, future upgradability and integration with other selected components.
Additionally, a significant portion of the upgrade project was devoted to enhancing safety by improving situational awareness, reducing pilot workload and adding redundancy.
When I took the keys, the 1971 PA28 was equipped with a very basic IFR panel that previously had been upgraded with a GX55 en route GPS.
NAV/COM functions were managed by a pair of Bendix/Kings: a vintage KX 170B and a more modern KX 125 with digital CDI.