Avionics Report

December 2008 Issue

Basic Nav / Coms: Try Garmin and Icom

Garmin’s SL30 does it all and does it well. For com only, we like the SL40 and Icom’s IC-A210. The venerable King KX-155 is also still a good choice.

In the good old days, a big avionics installation consisted of a pair of nice nav/com radios. This was easy work for the shop when compared to today’s high-speed digital interfaces. For the owner, an old-school, dual-radio upgrade meant dropping five grand or thereabouts. Prices are twice that for new nav/coms. Shops often have to gut a rat’s nest of old wiring as well. The teardown-intensive task of replacing original antennas and coaxial cable means more airframe disassembly, increased downtime and a hefty addition to the owner’s bottom line. Here’s a rundown of what the market has to offer in modern nav/com radios, and a review of potential gotchas that should be discussed on the front end of the project. We’ll skip integrated NMS systems and cover traditional com and nav radios. Also keep in mind that whether or not your existing OBS or HSI (or PFD) is compatible with the new radio could swing the price by over $1500.

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