VFR panel cost analysis

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Toobuilder

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Need and want are certainly the issue. That said, even a VFR pilot with a clear view of the ground and chasing his finger along a paper chart can benefit from panel mounted display showing current winds aloft, TAS, range, ETE, traffic within 20 miles, and weather within 100, etc. Yes, one can fly just fine without even looking at the panel, but this stuff is right there, free for the taking. Even buying a basic six pack is going to cost more than an EFIS - with far less utility, more weight, and more complexity. The days of steam are coming to an end.
 

autoreply

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By the time you have some decent analog instruments (compass, altitude, speed, climb) that actually work well, you've spent more than a basic EFIS. Seen far too many "cheap" instruments that were utter crap. If you buy crap instruments that give incorrect values, why buy it at all?
 

dcstrng

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one can fly just fine without even looking at the panel, but this stuff is right there, free for the taking. Even buying a basic six pack is going to cost more than an EFIS - with far less utility, more weight, and more complexity...
I find no fault in your logic and my head tends to agree with you (although my heart doesn’t), and this is undoubtedly true for a flier (especially of certificated, or quasi-certificated birds) who feels or is compelled to ACS, Wicks and the others at the retail end – I shop there too, but am very selective… I’ve price compared the budget-end of the glass-panels (if there is such a thing) against new steam-gauges and they are roughly comparable price-wise… assuming you want to emulate all the gadgetry of the glass panels in steam gauges – and that is the question…

Still there is something ethically upside down about advertising a kit-plane for low-mid teen$ and then putting a panel in that increases the price by 25-50%. Nonetheless we build these things for fun (those of use who dabble at building) so it’s all good, so long as the builder is achieving what they’d hoped… I am still considering either a MGL Flight-2 or a GRT low-end composite gauge to supplement my steam menagerie, but I reflect on many enjoyable C-150/152 hours and realize that excepting the T&B and artificial Horizon which I seldom used, the rest including engine gauges could now be purchased used for a few hundred bucks at most… my “ball” is a sailboat clinometer (gravity is still pretty reliable…).

My experience of instrumentation in other harsh environments is that the last gauge to go is the mechanical one… if I can manage it, I probably won't have so much as a ground wire running to my instrument panel.
 

bob noffs

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i spent quite a bit of time at the grt booth at snf. the mini looks very good. software updates are easily available online. the basic mini does have a ''magnetic compass''. the mini x has a remote magnetrometer that adds a more reliable source of info for the art. hor. even the basic has gps, accelerometer, ahars, and magnetic heading for attitude display. the worst i have ever heard about grt is that they are plain, cheap, and reliable products. i have an eis now and the mini is at the top of my list on my rv when done , vfr only. although a moving map can be had as an option the small screen is too cluttered and everyone carries a gps these days anyway. and the mini b also has a database to gps anywhere with heading , track and distance. i like steam gauges but for value, cost they can't touch the grt mini.
bob noffs
 

Toobuilder

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And if you ever plan to make it IFR, backup is usually mechanical.
And that concept is rapidly vanishing as well.

Even among the certified crowd, there are a rash of new fully electronic standby instruments showing up.
 

Toobuilder

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...but I reflect on many enjoyable C-150/152 hours and realize that excepting the T&B and artificial Horizon which I seldom used, the rest including engine gauges could now be purchased used for a few hundred bucks at most… my “ball” is a sailboat clinometer (gravity is still pretty reliable…).

My experience of instrumentation in other harsh environments is that the last gauge to go is the mechanical one… if I can manage it, I probably won't have so much as a ground wire running to my instrument panel.

If one would limit themselves to day/VFR, then I agree that nothing found in the typical six pack is required for most airplanes we fly. Once you move to night however, then these functions have value. The main benefit of an EFIS though can only be understood once you start to use them. Winds aloft, graphically depicted by an arrow and a velocity number is a great benefit if you're hunting for the optimum cruising altitude. Sure, you can break out the E6B and plot it, but it's nice to have it right on your screen. Better to keep your eyes out looking for traffic than fumbling with a whiz wheel. Or how about the ability to display MPG instantly? When you're looking for the best RPM/EGT/AS combination, having the number updated instantly and in your face is a great tool. And let's not even talk about weather and traffic info... That's magic that airliners didn't even have until just recently.

As always, it all comes down to your mission. If you are a Sunday morning pancake breakfast pilot, then the bare minimum is likely all you need. If you use the airplane as a transportation tool however, then the frills become a lot more relevant.
 

TFF

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The regional airliner I last worked on has electronic standby in 2000. Besides being cool, it required no pitot static check in the normal sense. Management loved it. As long as it can be segregated from the ships power and has its own, electronic would be great. It is one of those things that when the day is going wrong what do you have to hold onto?
 

Toobuilder

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Well, how "wrong" is your day going? Throwing a connecting rod or running out of gas (the latter which happens with alarming regularity) will zero out a triple redundant instrument panel in an instant. Remember, nobody can eliminate the possibility of failure (just ask NASA); we need to realistically assess and manage the probability of failure. It's the best we can do. This is the slippery slope I see so often on the Vans board – these day/VFR guys have redundant EFIS systems (often with steam backup) simply because something COULD go wrong…
That’s not engineering.
 

Pops

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As always, it all comes down to your mission. If you are a Sunday morning pancake breakfast pilot, then the bare minimum is likely all you need. If you use the airplane as a transportation tool however, then the frills become a lot more relevant.
Very true. When I had a work aircraft and had to get the work done, I had everything I could get in it at the time.
Now that I'm a every day of the week,in the evening, low and slow, to watch the sun set flyer, I just need the basics. Dan
 
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Topaz

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...If you use the airplane as a transportation tool however, then the frills become a lot more relevant.
If you're using an airplane as a legitimate transportation tool, that means arrival dates and times are critical. Which, in my mind, means one should have an IFR rating. Otherwise, the temptation to push the limits with a bad case of "get-there-itis" is going to be a real danger. People quite regularly get killed that way.

I don't disagree with the benefits of an EFIS. Everything you said is true. Which is why I first pointed out the software/sensors/commercial-tablet-as-computer-and-display option, which gets you the same benefits at a fraction of the price, even if you carry a spare tablet on board as a backup (Nexus 7 is only $239, retail). IMHO, the regular commercial EFIS setups are highway-robbery overpriced and, yes, if you're willing to buy refurbished or go get some used instruments and have them refurbished, a very basic mechanical panel can be had for considerably less money than any EFIS on the market. I'm not talking artificial horizon or any other such nonsense. I'm talking a basic VFR panel.
 

N804RV

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So, if I go with a GRT Sport Sx package, I need to also buy the EIS 4000 to drive the engine instrument display, right? So, it looks to me like this is the cost break down for the basic GRT Sport Sx package with engine monitoring:

Single Sport Sx EFIS package $2,600

- 6.5" MFD
-Built in AHARS and GPS
-Ext magnetometer
-Ext OAT probe
-wiring harness

EIS 4000, basic Lycon 4cyl package purchased with EFIS $1,000

Total EFIS/EIS panel cost (not including Com and TXPDR) = $3,600.00

What else will I need?

It looks like I'll need Fuel quantity probes, associated wiring, a fuel flow transducer and wiring. What else?
 

Toobuilder

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If you're using an airplane as a legitimate transportation tool, that means arrival dates and times are critical. Which, in my mind, means one should have an IFR rating. Otherwise, the temptation to push the limits with a bad case of "get-there-itis" is going to be a real danger. People quite regularly get killed that way...
Hold on a second - let's not place everything into one box or another. My typical transportation "mission" is from my house to Chandler AZ. This is a very VFR doable 333NM trip with zero pressure to "get there". It does require navigation around/through some interesting airspace, and the weather is certainly a big variable. In this case, my airplane is a mode of transportation, and even absent a hard schedule, very much benefits from the plethora of information presented on the display(s). Navigation, weather, traffic, engine data and autopilot all at a glance. Automation of the secondary functions allows me to stay sharp and focus on the most important thing in VFR flight - not running into anyone. Yep, it's pretty boring droning along on autopilot for hours at a time, but when my wife is on board, the last thing I want is "excitement". Boring is good sometimes.
 

Vigilant1

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If you're using an airplane as a legitimate transportation tool, that means arrival dates and times are critical. Which, in my mind, means one should have an IFR rating.
+1. And, in much/most of the country, such a use would also require a plane with the ability to safely fly into known icing (FIKI) conditions. That's an expensive proposition, and flight into known icing in any small plane is not an entirely satisfactory undertaking.

Without a "hard" IFR panel, any plan to fly my little plane for "gotta get there on a particular day" trips requires a backup plan. That's why, no matter how fast the plane might be, I couldn't plan to use it for business trips beyond about 500-600 miles (the distance I'm willing to drive my car in a day). More as we discussed it here.
 
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Toobuilder

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So, if I go with a GRT Sport Sx package, I need to also buy the EIS 4000 to drive the engine instrument display, right? So, it looks to me like this is the cost break down for the basic GRT Sport Sx package with engine monitoring:

Single Sport Sx EFIS package $2,600

- 6.5" MFD
-Built in AHARS and GPS
-Ext magnetometer
-Ext OAT probe
-wiring harness

EIS 4000, basic Lycon 4cyl package purchased with EFIS $1,000

Total EFIS/EIS panel cost (not including Com and TXPDR) = $3,600.00

What else will I need?

It looks like I'll need Fuel quantity probes, associated wiring, a fuel flow transducer and wiring. What else?
That's most of it as far as I can see. And you will have a VERY capable panel with full engine monitoring... all for the cost of a certified engine monitor.

There are plenty of Bonanza drivers who would like to have half your capability at 10 times the cost.
 

dcstrng

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My idea of a nicely serviceable/personalized VFR panel – Ron Dixon’s venerable MiniCoupe, has traversed the better part of the continent many times over the past four decades and clearly can be assembled on a budget… notice the high-tech digital compass… Yes, still flying... Dixon-MC.jpg
 

Toobuilder

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+1. And, in much/most of the country, such a use would also require a plane with the ability to safely fly into known icing (FIKI) conditions. That's an expensive proposition, and flight into known icing in any small plane is not an entirely satisfactory undertaking.

Without a "hard" IFR panel, any plan to fly a private plane for "gotta get there on a particular day" missions requires a backup plan. That's why, no matter how fast the plane might be, I couldn't plan to use it for business trips beyond about 500-600 miles (the distance I'm willing to drive my car in a day). More here.

Once again, I urge caution that we don't go hard to extremes to make a point. There is plenty of safe VFR beyond the airport pattern. And just because the mission at hand does not have a hard schedule attached to it does not in any way lessen the legitimacy of an airplane as viable transportation.
 

autoreply

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With good, up-to-date weather (real-time), it seems to me that even with a "normal" VFR panel one could reliable make virtually all flights at least on the right day.
 

Vigilant1

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Once again, I urge caution that we don't go hard to extremes to make a point. There is plenty of safe VFR beyond the airport pattern. And just because the mission at hand does not have a hard schedule attached to it does not in any way lessen the legitimacy of an airplane as viable transportation.
Right, that's why the "in cases of fixed date/time scheduling" has been stipulated. But this "fixed day/time in the future" requirement exists for most business transportation and a lot of personal/fun traveling, too.
 
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