Garmin’s eLearning online training for the G5000 flight deck blazes a trail in avionics tuition, combining elements of voice-guided demonstration followed by hands-on practice. AIN tested the demo version of the full G5000 Essentials course, which is a portion of the full G5000 eLearning program. The entire G5000 eLearning course costs $699 for a 180-day subscription.
The G5000 eLearning course runs on most Internet browsers, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Apple Safari and Firefox, on tablet computers and smartphones as well as computers. That said, the training is more satisfying on a larger screen.
Perhaps the best part of the G5000 Essentials course is the first lesson: the System Overview section and the G5000 Introduction and Features sub-section. This portion simply and succinctly explains the basics of the G5000 displays and each key segment on the GTC 570 touchscreen controllers. I have flown jets equipped with G5000 three times, and I would have been better prepared for those flights had I studied this kind of introduction to the system beforehand. Such homework would have helped me better understand the different segments on each display, so that on the airplane my eyes would know where to go for particular functions.
On the G5000 and other touchscreen-controlled Garmin flight decks such as the G3000 and G2000, the top of the controller is called the com bar and the center of the screen is the desktop, below which is the button bar. This first lesson is the most important session for any pilot who will be flying with the G5000, and users can bookmark it for later review if necessary.
The training uses a three-step method. After an introductory overview, the training walks the pilot through dual sessions with on-screen prompts then solo practice. While these practice sessions were helpful in reinforcing the overview information, there were some drawbacks that perhaps Garmin can address in updates to this training.
For example, after going through the takeoff weight planning dual demonstration, the user gets to try it solo. But the system isn’t a free-play G5000 flight deck; the solo demo must be done in exactly the right sequence and with the answers that match the dual demo sequence. After three data entry mistakes, the system asks if the user wants to return to the demo mode. At this point, the user has to redo the entire dual demo before being released back into solo mode. While this does help reinforce the lesson, it also prevents the user from experimenting with the system and learning different ways of entering data.
The G5000 trainer is somewhat interactive in the approach mode, which is a great accomplishment in an online training system that doesn’t require any special hardware. In the ILS approach session, the user flies a vector, turns on the autopilot heading mode and approach mode and then watches as the simulated airplane flies the ILS down to the runway. This does take some time as it is done in normal time, and no speeding-up function is provided. Thus, when replaying the approach in solo mode, the user has to watch the whole approach run its course again before he can complete the solo lesson. This isn’t a major drawback, but it would be helpful to have a “speedup” button for those times when there is nothing more to be learned while the simulated airplane does something routine.
The training system keeps track of course activity and user progress, and users can bookmark content for later review and add notes using a journaling feature. For company training records, the system generates reports and completion certificates.
Even without the free-play mode, the G5000 eLearning course is the way all avionics training should be done, and other avionics manufacturers should take note of Garmin’s efforts. There is no reason, given today’s technology, that any pilot should have to show up at ground school without having been able to learn ahead of time how the avionics work. This will not only save a lot of time and money on away-from-home training but also help pilots fly more safely because they will have a much better understanding of how the avionics work.