Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Next Step In Glass Panels

Garmin’s new G2000 flat-panel display introduces total touch screen—almost

One difference you can't help but notice in the TTX panel is that the usual analog two-inch diameter backup instruments are missing. Garmin is confident the FAA will approve the G2000 as a standalone system without the necessity of backups. (Pilots still determined to fly by steam gauges with a glass-panel installation will no longer have the option to cheat with the analog instruments.)

More than coincidentally, Garmin also chose Sun 'n Fun as the venue to introduce the touch screen 650/750 GPS/VHF NAV/COMs. These are updated replacements for the talented 430/530 systems that have dominated the industry aftermarket business since 1998. (I flew the new systems at Sun 'n Fun in Garmin's Mooney Ovation; see July, 2011, P&P)

The common complaint about touch-screen control is that it can become more difficult to operate when the airplane is bouncing through any level of choppy air. Pretty obviously, the larger the screen, the more potentially difficult the task of anchoring your hand, so you can direct a finger at the proper electronic "button." That's exactly the reason Garmin installed stabilization rails on the new 650 and 750; to provide the pilot with an artificial grip and help stabilize control inputs.

To shortstop this problem on the G2000, Garmin provides the GTC-570 touch-screen controller, a smaller, 5.7-inch unit that mounts below the two main screens at center panel. The small control panel allows a pilot to input frequency, navigation and mode information, plus the controller can also regulate the environmental control system. The G2000 also incorporates a speech recognition system similar to that installed in many high-end cars.

In keeping with the touch-screen philosophy, the new system accomplishes its mission with a minimum of controls. Basically, the only knobs on the G2000 are the radio volume and squelch control, the usual dual concentric data-entry knob and a joystick for on-screen panning, all mounted on the GTC-570. Garmin would just as soon you don't touch the beautiful 14-inch PFD/MFD, so all functions are accessible on the controller.

The icons on the G2000 are large and easy to identify, but since I was flying a G2000 simulator, firmly attached to the floor of the building, there was no opportunity to test the system in turbulence. Still, there would seem to be plenty of grip capability adjacent to the controller to help anchor your hand.

The G2000 is driven by either one or two AHRS (attitude heading reference system) computers, and Garmin hopes most customers will opt for the redundant system. Terrain and traffic alerts will be standard.

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