I recently had the pleasure of flying with another CFI, CFII, MEI who was telling me of a student needing a bi-annual flight review. This particular student was eager to do his review in a plane equipped with a Garmin G1000 (for you non-pilots, just Google it). Well unfortunately, the trainer was only equipped with a Garmin 430 avionics package and a Sandel HSI. The $15,000+ avionics package was not cool enough compared to the $30,000+ G1000. Needless to say, he completed his flight review with out the G1000, did fine and insisted that next time he would find a plane for them with the G1000 package to fly.
The CFII and spoke about students wanting to train in technically advanced aircraft and had a discussion as to what type of student it would benefit and hinder. Technically advanced aircraft or TAA basically means you have three things at a minimum:
- Moving map display
- Auto Pilot
- IFR certified GPS
Looking at the cost for a Private Pilot Student, a TAA with an all glass cockpit would most likely not make sense financially as you would be able to get your private pilot rating and then spend 3+ hours training in a TAA with an instructor to familiarize yourself with the systems afterwards for less, especially in planes with G1000′s, which can cost upwards of an extra $50hr. You would save money to put toward more personal flying or an instrument rating. Of course if rich dad/grandpa is paying and they insist then you better not disappoint.
For the instrument pilot, my thought was similar to the private pilot scenario. You can still get a nice avionics package such as the Sandel HSI and a Garmin moving map GPS that’s IFR certified for much less than renting one with a glass cockpit. Although this plane would most likely be a TAA assuming the auto pilot, it would be a much cheaper TAA. Again after the certificate has been earned, getting caught up in an all glass cockpit would not take much.
Commercial pilot? Go do it in a 152 or Cherokee, it’s just the private pilot standards at a higher level.
So, should you train at all with a glass cockpit? I think you absolutely should, but don’t make it your primary trainer for a rating unless you are trying to break the bank. I think technology is our friend and if it makes us safer and better pilots without distracting us in the cockpit, then I’m all for it. Just remember that it is technology to make us safer. If you want to fly with your head down in the cockpit playing around with the avionics, don’t spend $150+ an hour, go buy or borrow the simulator and do it at home on your computer or tv. It’s safer and a cheaper way to familiarize your self with these systems.