9:57 PM

The Avionics Evolution
Hits a Bump in the Road


As each day passes, I move swiftly to buying the Cherokee 235 of my dreams. I have found two planes that have the suite of avionics I desire, that being a Garmin 430 coupled to an S-TEC 50 with GPSS. From where I sit, if you really want to fly IFR and provide the absolute safest means of private air travel for passengers, buy the best avionics you can afford, you will never be sorry.

But in the new aircraft world, avionics technology is moving forward almost at warp speed. What is hot today is old school tomorrow. Is the Avionics world evolving too fast? Yesterday I would have said no, but today ANN tells me this:

ANN has confirmed that a large percentage of the Columbia Aircraft manufacturing work-force was laid off Monday, due to the reported lack of critical avionics components needed to finish the aircraft. "Nearly 300" staffers were notified Monday that they were furloughed until components of the Garmin G1000 glass panel system were delivered in sufficient quantity to re-start the production line. Garmin recently notified Columbia of an inherent problem in the AHRS (Attitude, Heading & Reference System) of its G1000 integrated avionics system that will delay shipments of the Primary Flight Display used in the Columbia 350 and 400. The problem limits aircraft operations to VFR only and causes an inability for Columbia to issue a Certificate of Airworthiness to customer specifications for delivery.
After coming off a losing battle against Mother Nature when she puked hail onto 66 beautiful Columbias sitting outside the Bend, Oregon plant last year, the maker had just re-hired back those employees and things were ramping up quite nicely. So it has to be frustrating knowing this:
The chief concern is that the avionics supplier is unable to definitively confirm when the problem will be resolved or when parts shipments will resume to Columbia. According to Garmin, all G1000 Primary Flight Displays manufactured on or after May 1, 2007 are suspect.
This isn't the first time "supplier issues" have recently stopped GA production lines. When Eclipse switched from Avidyne to a new vendor for it's AVIO avionics suite several months ago, it caused the company reported production delays they did not need.

I am a huge fan of everything Garmin does, and I'll bet anyone they have their full force of technicians working overtime to solve this glitch and get back to blowing G1000s out the factory door at a brisk clip. They have to, since so many OEMs such as Cessna, Diamond, Mooney and Piper are seriously married to the G1000 glass panel.

When you are the star of the avionics world, and your most visible product line suffers a setback such as this, it means you fix it overnight, period. I hope that in short order, we all forget this happened once the lines at Columbia crank back up, and pilots like me go back to dreaming of flying behind the G1000.

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