Garmin touchscreens are new pilot interface
At this year’s Aircraft Electronics Association show in March, Garmin International (Stand 1367) introduced the long-awaited successors to the 14-year-old Garmin GNS 430/530 navigator series, the new GTN 650/750 touchscreen panel-mount navigator/radios. Since then, the U.S. cockpit innovator has added another new series in its large-display avionics, the new G2000 with a touchscreen controller.
While the functionality improvements of the GTN series are compelling, what is significant is that they bring full touchscreen control on the display itself to Part 23 cockpits. And in a surprising move, Garmin obtained FAA TSO certification of the GTN series and approved model list certification for installation in most Part 23 aircraft before making the AEA announcement. The new GTN 650 and 750 are the first certified aviation touchscreens. Prices are $11,495 for the GTN 650 and $16,995 for the 750. An optional remote audio control system, the GMA 35, costs an additional $2,995.
More Display Area
The new navigators are not drop-in replacements for the GNS series but expand significantly on the display real estate, something made possible by adoption of the touchscreen.
The GTN 650 fits the necessary electronics and larger 4.9-inch screen into a box with the same exterior footprint as the GNS 430W, and the 650 has 53 percent more screen area than the 430W. With a 6.9-inch screen, the GTN 750 spans 98 percent more display real estate compared to the 530W and has enough room for full-size approach plate display. Both have greater resolution, too, with five times as many pixels as the older units (600-by-266 on the GTN 650 and 600-by-708 on the GTN 750).
The larger and higher-resolution displays make possible added features like graphical flight planning, low- and high-altitude airways/jet routes and SafeTaxi airport charting with own-ship position on taxiways and runways. Both units work with a remote transponder, and the GTN 750 also offers the GMA 35 remote audio panel and electronic chart display.
The GMA 35 remote audio panel will eventually incorporate Garmin’s 3-D spatial audio and voice control features (introduced in the GMA 350 audio panel), which will be available via software upgrades. Buyers who opt for voice control will also need to have a push-to-command button added to the aircraft’s yoke. The GMA 35 is controlled via the GTN touchscreen and automatically adjusts cockpit speaker and headset volume according to cockpit noise. A record/playback capability helps with copying clearances.
Garmin promises intuitive ease-of-use features, and design elements of the touchscreen controller for the G3000 and new G2000 avionics suites have migrated into the GTN units. A fingerboard on the GTN screen bottom and a finger-anchoring bezel around the display helps pilots maintain a steady hand on the touchscreen, but buttons and knobs are also available for data entry as well as an alphanumeric on-screen keyboard. The touchscreen allows pilots to modify flight plans by tapping or dragging a finger on the screen or by “rubber banding” a route around thunderstorms or to comply with ATC changes.
With the big screen on the GTN 750, Garmin was able to add a unique feature, on-screen orientation of approach chart. Instead of just presenting the full approach chart in portrait mode, which the GTN 750 can do, the chart is overlaid on the moving map, oriented to the moving-map features. Garmin’s SafeTaxi airport charts have long been displayed this way, oriented to the moving map to make it easier for pilots to visualize the airport environment.
Now with own-ship position depicted on the approach plate and the approach plate oriented to fit the moving map, pilots should have a high level of situational awareness. This overlay feature is available only with Jeppesen charts (ChartView). Garmin plans to offer geo-referencing for U.S. government AeroNav charts (FliteCharts) in the future.
The GTN series include a terrain database, with Class-B Taws alerting available as an option. Also included is WAAS LVP approach capability, and course deviation and roll steering outputs for certain autopilot systems. Other options include XM WX satellite weather and radio and traffic services.
The communication radio in the GTN 650/750 transmits at 10 watts, but a 16-watt version is available. Later this year, Garmin plans to release the GPS-only GTN 625 and 725 and the GTN 635 with VHF communications.
The new G2000 avionics suite builds on the familiar G1000, adding a touchscreen controller similar to the controller featured on the upcoming G3000 and G5000 systems. The 5.7-inch G570 controller allows pilots to control radios and checklists, review charts, access synoptic data, modify flight plans and view weather, entertainment, traffic and map data. The controller features easy to interpret computer desktop-style icons and a shallow menu structure, according to Garmin.