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Glass cockpit vs steam gauges for low time PPL (and getting into a fast aircraft early on)

Hello everybody, it’s my first post here.

I’m finishing my PPL at the moment and going to buy a plane right after getting it. And I’m going to start working on IFR rating shortly. I decided to buy a Cessna 182. The question is whether it’s better to buy a fresher one with Garmin G1000 or an older one with steam gauges.

My instructor is suggesting me to buy one with steam gauges and learn IFR rating with it. The main reason is that I will develop a proper instrument scan this way.
However, after getting my IFR rating and when I have enough experience, I’m going to buy a faster and more modern plane anyway which will definitely have a glass cockpit. So for me, it seems to be weird to learn with steam gauges first and then need to relearn to get used to the glass cockpit. I have no experience, and it’s difficult for me to understand whether I need the 6-pack instrument scan if I’m not going to fly 6-pack IFR.

LCPH, Cyprus

Hi Valentin,

If you pretty confident you will be flying a glass Cockpit in the future, there is no reason why you should do your training in a steam gauges cockpit.

I did all my flight training on a G1000 and never had issues flying older avionic aeroplanes.

Each pilot will give you a different opinion based on their own experience.

Don’t forget that aviation is one of the most conservative industries out there :)

EGSU, United Kingdom

I think it may happen that I will occasionally fly a steam gauge if I go somewhere far from my place and rent a plane there. However, I hardly imagine a need to fly IFR like this.

LCPH, Cyprus

As a low time VFR pilot I found swapping between glass and steam effortless. Obviously the instrumentation matters more for IFR (nomen est omen!), but if you can afford a glass cockpit and it suits you well I don’t see why you shouldn’t buy a so equipped plane outright. Ideally you’d then be doing your IR in your own plane…

Low-hours pilot
EDVM Hildesheim, Germany

If you can afford a glass cockpit, do it. You have to learn a scan no matter what you fly – the scan is just different.

EGTK Oxford

Definitely train in the plane you are going to fly afterwards. You will be a much more current (and much safer) pilot when you finish.

As regards the glass cockpit, the argument in favour is (a) it’s “nicer”, (b) resale value is better. OTOH you have to haul the plane to a Garmin dealer to have almost any avionics problem looked at. In Cyprus, that could be quite an issue. Many posts here from people located in the more remote places who have struggled with downtime as a result of this, and one sees few “glass” planes in these places, or flying to these places. The G1000 is reliable but no more reliable than good quality separate avionics and the separate stuff is much easier to fix.

The specifics are likely to be more relevant e.g. the GFC700 autopilot will work a lot better than some old King box. And if the non-G1000 plane is older, that is another load of factors to consider.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

It’s an important issue with the unavailability of Garmin dealer in Cyprus, and I thought about it. How reliable is G1000? If I buy, let’s say, a 2009-2010 year plane with about 1000 hrs total time and fly another 500 hours in it, are there much chances that I’ll ever encounter a problem with the avionics?
As for the autopilot, if I buy a plane with G1000, then I will choose one which has GFC700.

LCPH, Cyprus

are there much chances that I’ll ever encounter a problem with the avionics?

Obviously it is possible, and then you have a problem because a lot of functionality can be lost. The plane can be legally grounded until fixed. In Cyprus, I would not do it.

OTOH it depends on your local facilities. You might have a clever guy there who knows the G1000, has the access codes etc, and can do fixes “off the books”. A fair bit of this goes on at “far away” places. A big part of aircraft ownership involves having a good relationship with somebody like that.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Valentin, I trained on steam guages but bought a DA40 with G1000 and GFC700 autopilot – a brilliant combination, especially for IFR. I find the scan much easier and the info you need is all on the PFD; with the GFC700 integration it makes use of the autopilot more functional in my opinion (things like setting Flight Level Change in the climb – avoids a stall – and set Vs in descent to keep ATC happy).
Each to their own but I wouldn’t go back to steam guages now.

EGGD Bristol, United Kingdom

Obviously it is possible, and then you have a problem because a lot of functionality can be lost. The plane can be legally grounded until fixed. In Cyprus, I would not do it.

And how can it be fixed when there is no dealer at the airfield? BTW, I’m not going to fly only in Cyprus. It’s a relatively small island with only two airports. So I’m going to fly to Greek islands a lot, then further to the mainland Greece and further to Europe too. G1000 can have a problem anywhere, at any airfield. How are such situations resolved usually?

LCPH, Cyprus
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