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Justifying cost of a complete glass panel.


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Newbie here that just got a very nice M20E. Would love to put everything in this plane. Doesn't have autopilot, had older 430 nonwaas. How have you that have done it justify spending 25k plus on a 65k plane. I ask this because I want to. I can do it if I want but want to make the right decision. Thanks in advance for input and help. 

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My 67 C   do you have the money? do you want glass? if the answer to both of those is yes, then get the glass. 

I once totaled up everything I'd spent on the airplane one year.  I immediately swore never to do such a thing again.  If you really have to justify costs, take up knitting, or baking, or perhaps wood

Heck, I can't even justify the cost of the airplane. 

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Your predicament is how I ended up trading in my C for a K, but my mission had also changed.

Does the plane serve your mission well and will it continue to do so for 10 years or so? If so, it's probably worth your while to make it how you want it.

 

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I would approach the question this way.

What is your mission?
what is your budget?
What is your long term plan for the plane?
What are your expectations?

If you want to go complete glass their are a number of ways to accomplish that. For about 16K plus IFR navigator you can do it with Garmin GI-275s and cut your panel down to 3x instruments. For a little more you could explorer a single panel dynon or G3X, a little more and you can have a two panel dynon or G3X and for about 50K you can have Garmin G500TXI displays.

In my E I went dual G5s, a GI-275 MFD and left my old GNS-480 in its place, with Ebay and few promotions I went "glass" for under 10K installed, but it meets my mission and sets me up for a GFC-500 autopilot.

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If you love the plane and it fits 95% of your mission profile and you plan to keep it as a “forever plane” then I’d recommend doing it. I have a 1978 J that is going in for a $22k paint and window job next month followed by a full redo on the panel with hopefully a [dual] Skyview HDX screen system. It probably doesn’t make much sense to invest so much money on a 43 year old plane but I always said I was buying my last plane first so for me it makes sense. I hope this helps.

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Dollar-wise, you are unlikely to recoup more than half the money spent on a new panel when you go to sell.  But, the value of enjoying the new panel will be real to you.  And the longer you enjoy it, the greater the value.  If it's what you want, do it.

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2 hours ago, chriscalandro said:

My 67 C

 

do you have the money?

do you want glass?

if the answer to both of those is yes, then get the glass. 

1A405B6B-E4F1-4E33-940E-D2DD7D4E154B.jpeg

This. 

Private aircraft ownership can be obscenely expensive, and many of those expenses are not optional. If you're going to do this at all, you might as well get some things that you *want* once in a while :)

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I once totaled up everything I'd spent on the airplane one year.  I immediately swore never to do such a thing again.  If you really have to justify costs, take up knitting, or baking, or perhaps woodworking. There is no rational justification for the monies we spend on aviation.  None at all.

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2 hours ago, David Lloyd said:

Dollar-wise, you are unlikely to recoup more than half the money spent on a new panel when you go to sell.

It depends on the upgrades and how recent they are.  Although you'll never recoup any labor costs, hardware - if installed recently - holds its value in large part, according to several appraisers with whom I've worked.

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1 hour ago, MIm20c said:

I’d concentrate on a waas navigator, engine monitor, and an autopilot. Those changes will use up most of your budget...

This is where I am as well. Normally I'd say fly it for a year first. See how it goes with regular flying. This will tell you a couple of things... or more.

  1. Is the plane truly airworthy and worthy of upgrading. If the first year of regular flying reveals major problems, you might re-think putting big money into a panel or you might spend that money just to keep it flying. If it sails through the first year with you flying 100 to 150 hours and all is good, you'll feel better about upgrading stuff.
  2. Is this truly the airplane for you. Either you'll love it, or you'll be lusting after a J, or K, or a twin, or a plastic airplane with a parachute. If you love it after 150 hours, by all means spend the money and upgrade it. If after 150 hours you're already thinking of upgrading, then you probably don't.
  3. You'll also learn exactly where your priorities are with regards to the panel. For me the priorities are Engine monitor, Autopilot, WAAS Navigator. You'll know your priorities after a year of flying.
  4. Bonus: Spend the year finding the right shop to do the work. This is not a trivial undertaking. Take your time, visit a few shops, talk to people, get to know them., build a relationship... before you drop your bird off for 6 months and $$$$$ of work.

The one reason to move ahead now is that regardless if you keep the plane or not, it will be much more enjoyable to fly and you'll have a much easier time selling it if it has an autopilot. 

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I kicked around getting a different plane but came to the realization that this plane met all of my mission needs.  As long as I can maintain a medical and can walk up on a wing, I'll be flying it.  That's made the idea of throwing money at the panel more palatable.  If I were planning to swap planes in the next few years, I'd be hard pressed to get anything beyond what I needed.

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9 hours ago, smwash02 said:

Your predicament is how I ended up trading in my C for a K, but my mission had also changed.

Does the plan serve your mission well and will it continue to do so for 10 years or so? If so, it's probably worth your while to make it how you want it.

 

But your operating and maintenance cost also went up. 
I kept my old vacuum gyro as a third backup. The other day departing for home in the evening on a required ifr departure the old gyro didn’t erect. Since I had two other certified ones I didn’t get stuck for a day or so waiting for VFR weather. 
Turns out it’s almost as expensive to get a backup attitude old style indicator as a 275.

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39 minutes ago, gsxrpilot said:

This is where I am as well. Normally I'd say fly it for a year first. See how it goes with regular flying. This will tell you a couple of things... or more.

  1. Is the plane truly airworthy and worthy of upgrading. If the first year of regular flying reveals major problems, you might re-think putting big money into a panel or you might spend that money just to keep it flying. If it sails through the first year with you flying 100 to 150 hours and all is good, you'll feel better about upgrading stuff.
  2. Is this truly the airplane for you. Either you'll love it, or you'll be lusting after a J, or K, or a twin, or a plastic airplane with a parachute. If you love it after 150 hours, by all means spend the money and upgrade it. If after 150 hours you're already thinking of upgrading, then you probably don't.
  3. You'll also learn exactly where your priorities are with regards to the panel. For me the priorities are Engine monitor, Autopilot, WAAS Navigator. You'll know your priorities after a year of flying.
  4. Bonus: Spend the year finding the right shop to do the work. This is not a trivial undertaking. Take your time, visit a few shops, talk to people, get to know them., build a relationship... before you drop your bird off for 6 months and $$$$$ of work.

The one reason to move ahead now is that regardless if you keep the plane or not, it will be much more enjoyable to fly and you'll have a much easier time selling it if it has an autopilot. 

For not that much more you end up with glass and all those items integrated. If you’re going to add all those items, do it with glass and integration. Garmin or Dynon

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8 minutes ago, ReconMax said:

Having your plane in the shop sucks in all kinds of ways. I'd be sad with my plane sitting in the shop for months and months. 

especially when you're driving someplace hours away knowing you'd already be there in the plane.  :lol:

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Having your plane in the shop sucks in all kinds of ways. I'd be sad with my plane sitting in the shop for months and months. 

A glass panel installation should be about a 3-4 week job assuming 1 tech is working on it. Not months and months.
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The only justification I can see is that you get a more modern, reliable and maintainable airplane for much less than it would cost to buy a new or late model similarly equipped. That’s why I decided to do it. Of course, when you sell it, it will still be worth a lot less than the newer model you didn’t buy.

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I think the rest have spoken volumes about the justification. As a long time owner of the same F model, when I made the investment to modernize the avionics, I was certain this was the plane that would see me through my retirement years. But let me add another perspective that might help. I had flown for YEARS with steam gauges before I made the first investment - an STEC 60-2 autopilot. In the world of single pilot IFR, an autopilot is IMHO a necessity. Don't let the rhetoric of "real pilots don't need autopilots" sway you. Even in the majors, the majority of their flying is with the autopilot on and that is with two trained pilots on board and not Aunt Emma sitting in the co-pilot seat wanting to know why the light is blinking red. Having the ability to let George handle the flying while you are briefing an approach with Aunt Emma talking about how much her bunions are hurting, really helps with the workload.

Moving from the standard 6 pack to a glass configuration, you might hear some arguments that with the introduction of EFBs, the need for a full glass panel is minimized. I found flying behind a glass panel that my scan is much easier and I can get everything I need from the display (traffic, weather and of course the always needed flight information - attitude, airspeed, heck, even a notification that my GPS wants my attention).

The flip side is that for some pilots having this much technology is a distraction and even worse a risk since they struggle to know the correct way to use the technology. I have really enjoyed the avionic upgrades I have done. But as others have said, make sure you are doing it on a plane that you plan on holding on for a bit.

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5 minutes ago, ArtVandelay said:


A glass panel installation should be about a 3-4 week job assuming 1 tech is working on it. Not months and months.

I’m having ALL the avionics replaced with Garmin stuff including G3X, GFC 500, CiES fuel senders. Estimate is 7.5 weeks by a shop that does meticulous work. So, I would think that this sets an upper bound on the down time.

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Just now, PT20J said:

I’m having ALL the avionics replaced with Garmin stuff including G3X, GFC 500, CiES fuel senders. Estimate is 7.5 weeks by a shop that does meticulous work. So, I would think that this sets an upper bound on the down time.

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My experience (3 major upgrades) is that most avionic upgrades are measured in months. What usually happens is discovered issues, suggested modifications to your agreed upon planned upgrade or interruptions from emergency work (warranty repairs or a major customer comes in with a pressing issue).

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3 minutes ago, PT20J said:

I’m having ALL the avionics replaced with Garmin stuff including G3X, GFC 500, CiES fuel senders. Estimate is 7.5 weeks by a shop that does meticulous work.

I just had my steam gauges replaced with GI 275's, Cies fuel senders, JPI engine monitor and a Garmin 255 installed and it took 7 weeks. The estimate for my new GFC 500 is 2-3 weeks.

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I agree with Marauder about the autopilot. It is possible to fly IFR with steam gauges and VHF Nav/Coms without an autopilot - I’ve done a lot. But with a GPS navigator and glass panel, there is too much programming to make this comfortable in a busy terminal area. On a 20 minute flight from my home airport to KPAE, I have to deal with two TRACONs, usually get two or three altitude changes, and frequently a reroute before handoff depending on traffic. Then I have to get the ATIS and sometimes they change the active runway after I’m enroute depending on what flow Sea-Tac is using.

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3 minutes ago, Marauder said:

My experience (3 major upgrades) is that most avionic upgrades are measured in months. What usually happens is discovered issues, suggested modifications to your agreed upon planned upgrade or interruptions from emergency work (warranty repairs or a major customer comes in with a pressing issue).

That’s what I’m trying to avoid by doing everything in one shot. We’ll see how it works out ;). The other reason is that I only want to tear it apart once and then I’m done.

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Just now, PT20J said:

That’s what I’m trying to avoid by doing everything in one shot. We’ll see how it works out ;). The other reason is that I only want to tear it apart once and then I’m done.

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That is the way to go. And also going with a good shop helps too. Most of the delays on my last upgrade was the quality shop fixing what was done incorrectly from the first two upgrades.

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