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Avionics upgrade - is this price reasonable?

Just think about that labour costs as well as VAT e.t.c. are hugely different in different countries.

A price quoted for e.g. Switzerland may be a lot more expensive than e.g. Lithuania or Slovenia or even the UK, where salaries are a lot less.

Within the EU, it may be very interesting shopping around in low wage countries and find a reputable place there.

Anyway, my own avionic upgrade which consisted of an Aspen, S-TEC 55X installation, Upgrading the GNS430 to WAAS, rewiring the avionic stack for the Aspen and AP, together with the pre- part NCO engineering documentation ended up in this area as well. It took 3 months to do, mainly because we had to wait for some parts which were supplied wrongly (cost time, not money that bit). At the time (2014) I think the cost of the whole installation plus the changes necessary for IFR certification at the time outdid the value of the airframe by a factor of 2:1.

In the mean time with the prices the airplane is valued today as well as devaluation of the investment over 10 years, the value of the airframe WITH the avionics would just about level out, as opposed to a plane without AP and WAAS.

There is a reason that I am repeating my own mantra that if you buy an airplane, see to it that avoinics are something you can live with. Upgrading cockpits can be much more expensive than any engine overhaul you might need to do.

LSZH(work) LSZF (GA base), Switzerland

Being in the Avionic business and well aquatinted with the financial and technical minefields that hide behind most instrument panels I feel it unwise to comment on potential labour costs without inspecting the aircraft.

Like I said, a quote of €100k is clearly a case of “we have a fanatical reputation in our country so people here throw money at us all the time, and right now we have too much work”. If they wanted business then – like A&C says above (and he knows how this works) they would have expressed interest and asked the customer to turn up with the plane before doing any pricing.

You can always get a job done for less but will it work properly? There are lots of ways to achieve “partial functionality”. You can also do bodges, sometimes dangerous ones. Read here under Installer Performance and that was a UK firm “with a fanatical reputation”… well at least among owners of a particular brand

Lithuania is “interesting”. Read this all the way to the end.

VAT rates mean little in the overall context.

This topic is a bloody minefield, which is why I am still flying with a KLN94+KMD550 and not 2×IFD540… I like near 100% availability.

A year in the shop is a case of “sod this customer, he’s already paid, so work on those who scream at us on the phone”. Lots of that goes on.

Discovering wrong parts is also a sign of a disorganised firm because nobody should start work until everything has arrived, including the paperwork

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

Discovering wrong parts is also a sign of a disorganised firm because nobody should start work until everything has arrived, including the paperwork

In this particular case it was not the fault of the installer but an oversight of the manufacturer, who sent a wrong piece with the right docs and label.

It is not without reason that there are preciously few shops around which have a rep of delivering proper work every time and they are pricy, maybe just because cutting corners is not what they do. If on top of that they are in a high wage country, the whole pricing can escalate really quickly.

In my case, I decided to stick with a local shop because I also wanted them close if there were issues or warranty claims (there were). All in all, it was costly, yes, but the alternatives might have been more so. Having said that, if I were to buy an airplane ever again, I would not buy one unless it has the AP and most of the other avionics I want. The most I’d change these days would be one navigator with another or upgrade an Aspen to Max or so. On the other hand, I would not shy away from a high hour engine or prop which I know needs overhauling in the next 3-4 years, provided that is factured into the price. Overhauls are pretty much plannable. Avionics work is not.

Last Edited by Mooney_Driver at 31 Jan 19:47
LSZH(work) LSZF (GA base), Switzerland

The bag should have been opened…

I would also argue that avionics should be at least powered up on the bench before grounding the plane – because the customer is likely to get extremely angry. He won’t be able to sue because in private flying there is no demonstrable economic loss…

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

@NCYankee Re the integrated audio panel in the GTN750 I don’t look at it as a real benefit anymore. Because it is hidden in the menu!

I do change buttons in the audio panel frequently. Having a dedicated row of buttons just for that is valuable for me. I was also thinking about stepping up to a 750 from a 650, but in total I don’t see the benefit any more.


The only benefit of using an integrated audio panel is if you are challenged for vertical space caused by going to the taller GTN750 vs the GTN650. The other benefit of one of the new audio panels, integrated or not, is the push to command feature which I found invaluable. Some verbal commands I use frequently: Tune nearest weather, Tune destination Tower, Show Map, Show Traffic, Show Destination Info, Show Procedure. I have attached a copy of the Telligence™ Voice Command Guide which has the commands you can use.

Having flown with both the GTN 650 and the GTN 750, the 750 has a much more user friendly UI.


KUZA, United States

Don‘t forget the effort to take out the existing stuff. If this is a TB20, I assume the GFC500 is replacing an existing a/p. Removing the existing a/p is time-consuming, especially the servos and their mounting hardware. The GFC500 will need completely new mounting hardware installation. All those changes will need a complete review and adaption of the wiring design/schematics, and it may be smartest to pull out all the old panel wiring and build a new wiring harness. On the plus side, you will likely save some weight.

LSZK, Switzerland

chflyer wrote:

On the plus side, you will likely save some weight.

On my recent upgrade of my P28U, the ‘lightness’ of the two new GI 275 (and the removal of the vacuum system) + a Garmin 500 replacing the old autopilot, has given me an extra 1,000 lbs Payload.

Rochester, UK, United Kingdom

has given me an extra 1,000 lbs Payload.

1000lbs – how is that possible? 100lbs might be just about possible.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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