Avionics Report

August 2008 Issue

Transponder Upgrades: Garmin GTX327 Is Tops

Garmin, Narco and Becker offer fully solid-state options that fi t most any panel. Just don’t skimp on the budget for installation and interface.

While transponder replacement ranks near the bottom of most owners’ upgrade list, eventually—and often unexpectedly—you’ll be writing a check for a few grand on a transponder upgrade. You’ll likely rely on your shop’s recommendation for replacement options but there are several issues and a handful of models to consider. A proactive replacement may even be warranted given the modern technology found in many new models. Here’s a review of the current market offerings in ATC transponder gear and a review of the important accessories that should be addressed during installation. Ease of installation shouldn’t be the primary consideration when selecting a replacement transponder. You could shop the market for a used, exact-replacement for that ancient Cessna model only to face another failure next month. When an old model fails, our advice is to bite the bullet and replace it with a new unit. This usually includes replacing the interface wiring (also 20-plus years old) and antenna system that’s integral to the transponder’s performance.

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