G1000: Getting Behind the Glass Cockpit

Pilots flew aircraft with round dial or “steam gauge” instruments for decades before the introduction of the glass cockpit. Although the glass cockpit, specifically the Garmin G1000, simplifies some operations, it can also add quite a bit of complexity within the cockpit. The G1000 has more than one way to do many of the same functions. For example, a pilot can use either soft keys or the FMS knob to do the same thing. The G1000 has many pages and levels for certain operations which means a pilot can easily fall behind the system and the technology.

Transitioning to Glass
For pilots transitioning from conventional round dial or “steam gauge” instruments to the G1000, a number of problems can be presented. The G1000 has two computer screens that provide a plethora of information which may distract and overwhelm a pilot from looking outside and flying the airplane. Another issue when transitioning a pilot to a glass cockpit is that they may have hundreds of hours in a certain make and model of aircraft, allowing them to believe they can fly this aircraft even with different avionics. There are numerous differences between systems even if it is the same make and model of aircraft. You'll notice start-up procedures, flying headings, monitoring engine information, interpreting altitude and airspeed and even coordinated flight will be affected depending on the avionics. It is required by most flight schools for pilots transitioning to glass cockpits to take additional training in the system, such as the Garmin G1000, and to fly a certain amount of dual time with an instructor before they can fly solo. As a flight instructor, I notice that my students have to train through a new way of scanning the instruments and displays to process the same information they were accustomed to getting from traditional aircraft avionics. The good news is that pilots transitioning from “steam gauge” conventional aircraft to glass cockpit aircraft have many training resources available to help learn the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit, in addition to training from a qualified instructor.

Recurrent Training
The Garmin G1000 is a great avionics system that helps to assist the pilot in flying the aircraft, however because of its technology if a pilot does not use the system on regular basis the experience of using the G1000 can decline drastically. It is highly recommended for pilots to stay proficient with the G1000 by recurrent training because pushing buttons and turning knobs in flight is not the best way to see what they do especially in IMC conditions and during periods of high workload. I recommend to all pilots, not just students, to purchase training for the G1000 which can be used as a reference when a pilot has not flown the G1000 for an extensive period of time. A pilot might not need to go over all operations of the system, but instead study specific operations, approaches or modifying a flight plan. This can be the most important part of the pilot's preflight.

 In March of 2010 the NTSB Board made six recommendations after an analysis of flying technically advanced aircraft and glass cockpits. Five of these recommendations were related to training or the need for training. The recommendations were that the FAA:

1. Enhance pilot knowledge and training requirements.

2. Require manufacturers to provide pilots with information to better manage system failures. 

3. Incorporate training elements regarding electronic primary flight displays into training materials and aeronautical knowledge requirements. 

4. Incorporate training elements regarding electronic primary flight displays into initial and recurrent flight proficiency requirements for pilots of small light general aviation airplanes equipped with those systems, which addresses variations in equipment design and operations of such displays. 

5. Support equipment-specific pilot training programs by developing guidance for the use of glass cockpit simulators other than those that are approved by the FAA as flight training devices.

Helping pilots learn The G1000
There are a number of training products and tools available to help teach the skills required to master the operation and fly the G1000 with confidence. The types of training products for the G1000 vary from a manual or book to an interactive course where a pilot or student can use an emulator to help simulate G1000 flight operations. As an instructor I have used a number of  training products to help my students and pilots learn the G1000. I find that using an interactive training course is the best, because the student can use it by themselves or with the instructor. I also feel that having interactivity is key so that the pilots can experience  a real-time feel of the system and help to embed the operational aspects of the G1000.  The Jeppesen G1000 Training is a good interactive course that is available on CD, online or as a mobile app which utilizes a three-step method for teaching procedures. These courses are broken down by phases of flight which are ideal for recurrent training because they are very comprehensive, making it perfect for transition or initial training. The portability of the Jeppesen G1000 Mobile Training App on the iPad® makes it ideal for the preflight and post-flight discussions between the student and instructor. 

More than 75% of all new aircraft coming off the assembly line now have a glass cockpit. If you do not already fly a glass cockpit, chaces are you will in the future. If you have not flown an aircraft with a glass cockpit I highly recommed trying it out as the technology is amazing and makes flying more enjoyable. However without the proper traning and staying current with the training of the glass cockpit, such as the Garmin G1000, one can really get in some trouble when "getting behind the glass cockpit."

About the Author: Bob Brannan is a Product Manager in Jeppesen’s Aviation Training Solutions, a flight instructor for over 21 years and a pilot for over 26 years.  He is passionate about creating training products that benefit all pilots and continues to provide the high quality that pilots expect from Jeppesen.  Bob works closely with the industry and is very active in the aviation community. 

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