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Which of these 32 optional equipment upgrades would you insist on when instructing?

I instruct in different aircraft at various schools and privately. The most popular model is the PA28 and I have regular access to more than half a dozen. Some are very much better equipped than others, which I think makes it easier and safer to instruct in, although it can be argued that basic PPL instruction doesn’t need nearly so much.

Part NCO really doesn’t require much in the way of avionics for VFR flight, and thus is legal for an instructional PPL flight lesson.
Part NCO.IDE.A.120 VFR operations equipment
(1) magnetic heading;
(2)  time, in hours, minutes and seconds;
(3)  barometric altitude;
(4)  indicated airspeed

NCO.IDE.A.170 requires an emergency locator transmitter (or PLB)

Fortunately most aircraft do have the basic six pack, pitot heat etc. but some are much better than others.

I’ve listed 30 possible upgrades/extras.
If you were running a flight training school, which, if any, do you think are essential to deliver good quality, safe instruction for (a) PPL and (b) IRR/IR/BIR level.
You may wish to add further/different essential upgrades if I’ve overlooked anything.
But bear in mind that not all extra costs may not be recoverable by charging higher prices.

1 2nd 8.33kHz radio
2 2nd Altimeter
3 ADF (fully working including audio tones)
4 ADSB-in (built in)
5 ADSB-in (SkyEcho or similar)
6 ADSB-out (built in)
7 ADSB-out (SkyEcho)
8 AH (mechanical)
9 Autopilot
10 CDI (fully working, VOR only)
11 CDI (fully working, VOR/ILS with glideslope)
12 DME
13 EGT gauge (to teach leaning)
14 eHSI (eg. Garmin G5, GI275 etc)
15 Electronic CO detector
16 Engine monitor (e.g. JPI or similar)
17 G1000 or similar
18 Golze weather system
19 GPS box with up-to-date database
20 GPS navigation box (eg GNS430 etc)
21 Heading bug
22 HSI (mechanical)
23 LED external lights (landing, strobe, fin, nav)
24 Noise cancelling headphones (instructor)
25 Noise cancelling headphones (student)
26 PFD (e.g. Garmin G5)
27 Stormscope
28 Supplemental O2
29 USB Charger socket
30 Wing strobe lights
31 Life jackets
32 Dingy

FlyerDavidUK, PPL & IR Instructor
EGBJ, United Kingdom

Not sure if we can list more than one, but 24 & 25, ANR headsets, strike me as sinequanone for instructing…

ain't the Destination, but the Journey
LSZF, Switzerland

You can pick as many as you like, ideally listed in priority order.

Few schools that I know of provide noise cancelling headsets, although some of the more committed PPL students will buy their own once they have progressed some way through the course.

FlyerDavidUK, PPL & IR Instructor
EGBJ, United Kingdom

Aren’t 1, 2 and 8 mandatory for IFR, so for IRR/IR/BIR level?

For IFR exams (and thus training), one needs to do at least one non-precision approach and one precision, and one non-RNAV and one RNAV. So 19 and 20 are definitely mandatory and then some among 11 or 22 or 3 and maybe 12 (depending on what is available in the region). Frankly, in training, I think one should see “all” common approaches, so I would vote for (11 or 22) and 12.

31 and 32 if one flies over the sea, legally mandatory, no discussion. If one doesn’t, then not useful.

15 is cheap, I’d put one, can be a portable one.

24 and 25 are health things, I wouldn’t instruct without 24 but I would just bring my own.

9, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 21, 26 and 27 are nice/necessary to instruct at a high level, but not at the lower end of the spectrum.

23 is an investment, no need to constantly pay for replacements (and mechanic’s time for that), but doesn’t make an actual operational difference.

28 frankly I see little training scenarios, but for a travel machine is useful.

DavidC wrote:

Few schools that I know of provide noise cancelling headsets

Few schools I know provide headsets at all. Students and instructors bring their own.

Last Edited by lionel at 08 Jun 20:04

Being a CBIR student I’d say that for the CBIR/IRR it should be:
1. any GNSS (18 / 19), no IR training without it even possible, only IRR (to some degree – no RNP etc)
2. eHSI (14) – G5 actually REALLY helps when you could follow the track pointer
3. PFD (26) – G5 is much better, more stable and more sensitive than vacuum AI (quite a few of the mechanical ones develop minor leak, NOT helping, especially for an IR student), OAT adds more value as it shows then TAS + wind vectors
4. DME (12) and ADF (3) – you can’t do procedural approaches without those, only radar vectored
5. 2nd 8.33kHz radio (1) – it IS hard to listen to ATIS with just one radio when you are with London Control at the same time
6. Autopilot? (9) or at least the control panel, so you could easily select all the flight parameters on PFD/eHSI


lionel wrote:

Aren’t 1, 2 and 8 mandatory for IFR, so for IRR/IR/BIR level?

Well, 1) is not anymore… You COULD fly with just one radio in the airways.


I feel ADSB in and out is a boon for really every plane, probably best used in conjunction with FLARM…

Berlin, Germany
- Provided it is for VFR/primary instruction -

Any ADSB out/in + FLARM + ModeS Traffic or Safesky

CO detector

Noise cancelling headphones (instructor)
25 Noise cancelling headphones (student)

GPS navigation (either iPad or built in vfr gps map)

USB Charger socket

always learning
LO__, Austria

When I was a student pilot the things which where INOP where usually: Landing light, landing light, landing light, TC, landing light, landing light, AI, DG, landing light. Therefore from the maintenance perspective I’d say LED landing lights and one or two G5s. The landing light will probably pay for itself.

Regarding the 2nd radio: It needs an audio panel with a few buttons and not just two volume knobs and bears the risk that a student on a solo flight loses radio contact after misconfiguring the audio settings. I prefer a radio which let’s me monitor the standy frequency.

EDQH, Germany

An engine monitor is important not only to teach the student the basics of engine management, but also to predict and possibly avert an impending engine failure, and to minimise the repair costs if it fails.

Besides noise cancellation, the headset should be comfortable to wear, otherwise it will cause headache.

LKBU (near Prague), Czech Republic
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