As if there is any question mark about Garmin’s dominance in the retrofit avionics game, the company took a big eraser to it with its introduction of the GI 275 today. The GI 275 is a 3.125-inch panel mount round gauge that does the jobs of four different analog round gauges. And its price is pretty small, too.
The scope of the introduction should not be missed. Round analog gauges still dominate the panels of older aircraft, and not just lower value ones either. The GI 275 is a standard 3.125-inch round instrument, so it requires no cutting of the panel, making installation easier. There are literally hundreds of thousands of instruments in panels out there that could be replaced. It could be more than a million replacement candidate instruments.
The key is the chameleon like ways of the GI 275. Garmin says the GI 275 can serve the role of four different instruments, but it’s really like six, but who’s counting. The GI 275 can be a direct replacement (as in, take the old one out and see if you can find anyone to buy it) for the following instruments.
Primary Attitude Indicator
When serving as, to use Garmin’s term, a primary attitude indicator, the GI 275 offers a number of improvements over any analog gauge, as well as a host of improvements over the company’s popular G5 instrument. For one thing, you get rid of the vacuum-powered gyro, which is a huge safety improvement. You also get all kinds of added features that no analog gauge ever dreamed of having.
- Display of altitude, airspeed and heading on the instrument. It’s all there before your eyes.
- There’s also altitude pre-select for autopilot interface.
- Heading bug select.
- Optional synthetic vision, which overlays a 3D view of the outside world, including traffic, terrain, airport locator tags, obstacle (like towers and high terrain), and more.
- Flight path marker, for immediate reference not to what the gauges say but to where you’re actually headed.
- There’s even a built in VFR GPS!
- With the battery installed as part of the setup, it’s got a 60-minute backup battery life.
CDI (Course Deviation Indicator) and HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator)
The GI 275 can be used as a navigation display, using a variety of navigator inputs to display course deviation indications laterally or vertically (for glideslope on ILS or RNAV approaches), all while having the capability of displaying additional data, such as moving map, weather, terrain and traffic.
Primary Engine Display
When used as a display of engine information for normally aspirated or turbocharged piston engines from Continental and Lycoming four- or six-cylinder engines, the GI 275 can display RPM, manifold pressure, cylinder head temperature, exhaust gas temperature, turbine inlet temperature and more, including leaning assist, while also issuing alerts for exceedences, as allowed for and detailed in the handbook.
Multifunction Display (MFD)
The GI 275 can, when configured and installed to do so, display, in Garmin’s words, “additional page functions and features beyond a traditional flight instrument,” though what there is about this instrument in any regard that doesn’t go beyond a traditional flight instrument is hard to say. Regardless, when it’s set up as an MFD, the GI 275 can:
- Act as a moving map, with displays of terrain, traffic, weather, airways, airspace information and more.
- Serve as a dedicated traffic display when paired with a Garmin GTX 345 or GNX 375, including displaying Garmin’s cool relative traffic motion display it calls TargetTrend.
- Display Garmin’s SafeTaxi utility.
- Act as a display of terrain with color-coded shading to show areas of high terrain around the flight and with audible and visual alerts.
- Display Sirius XM and FIS-B (ADS-B) weather.
- Show pertinent airport information, like frequencies, runway lengths and more.
- Act as a radar altimeter display when paired with the GRA 55/5500 units.
- Replace the primary attitude indicator in the Garmin GFC 600 and a variety of third party units, as well.
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How many planes can it go into? Lots. According to Garmin, its AML list includes more than 1,000 general aviation and business aircraft, from light singles from Cessna and Piper up to pressurized twins, like the Mitsubishi MU-2.
Garmin’s VP of aviation sales and marketing said a mouthful: “If it’s round and in their panels, pilots can likely replace it with the GI 275 to receive modern flight display features and benefits in a powerful yet compact touchscreen flight instrument.”
Cost of the unit will vary depending on what role it fills. With a built-in ADAHARS, it goes for $3,995. With an autopilot interface, it’s $4,995. It will interface with the Garmin GFC 600 autopilot and numerous third-party models, as well. Because its GFC 500 retrofit autopilot was designed to be driven by the G5 standalone instrument, that popular autopilot is not yet compatible with the GI 275, though Garmin is working on the interface for it as we speak. While the GI 275 will provide the attitude to many third-part autopilots, it will also, and this is kind of a big deal, do the analog-to-digital conversion required in many of those autopilots, saving the owner the cost of a separate converter box.
Watch for an upcoming flight report on the GI 275 (or, mostly likely, an array of them) in the print edition of Plane & Pilot.