New G1000 NXi and G1000H NXi eLearning Courses Available

Pilots who fly behind our G1000® NXi and G1000H NXi for helicopters now have additional opportunities to refine their avionics skills. Our aviation training team introduced two new eLearning training courses for the G1000 NXi, as well as two separate eLearning courses for the G1000H NXi for helicopters. These courses are available in a virtual format allowing pilots to learn at their own pace. The G1000 NXi Fundamentals eLearning Course provides a foundational understanding of the system, while the G1000 NXi Essentials eLearning Course is focused on systems installed in high-performance piston and turbine engine aircraft. The two comprehensive eLearning courses for the G1000H NXi integrated flight deck titled G1000H NXi Fundamentals, and G1000H NXi Advanced-IFR, use scenario-based training to highlight helicopter-specific operations and are tailored for pilots new to the G1000H NXi system, in addition to those with experience wanting a deeper understanding of the system.

Core training topics

All four training courses build on a common core of training topics. These topics are common to all G1000 NXi and G1000H NXi systems but are tailored to the audience for each course. The topics include:

  • Primary Flight Display (PFD) and Multifunction Display (MFD) function
  • Audio Panel Features
  • Automatic Flight Control System
  • Hazard Avoidance Features
  • Safety Features
  • Abnormal Operations
  • Managing Databases
  • Operational Flight Scenario

Learn best-practices for G1000 NXi operational use

For those that are new to Garmin avionics, transitioning to advanced avionics, or perhaps want to refresh their understanding of the system, the G1000 NXi Fundamentals eLearning Course provides comprehensive training on the system designed for piston engine equipped aircraft. This course describes features of the system in detail and use a scenario to demonstrate how particular features function in different phases of flight in order to see this advanced system in action. In order to practice what you learned during this course, the Garmin G1000 NXi PC Trainer software is available for purchase online.

King Air flight deck featuring G1000 NXi, pilot holding iPad
G1000 NXi for King Air aircraft.

G1000 NXi for high-performance piston and turbine aircraft

For those operating high-performance piston or turbine-engine equipped aircraft, the G1000 NXi Essentials course presents best-practices for the G1000 NXi integrated flight deck by providing detailed training for pilots wanting to get the most out of the system. In addition to describing features in detail and showing how they can be used effectively in flight, scenario-based training demonstrates typical high-performance piston and turbine-engine aircraft operations, providing an opportunity to see the G1000 NXi system in full effect. For your specific or similar aircraft, the Garmin G1000 NXi PC Trainer software is available for purchase online, and provides the opportunity to take what you learned throughout the course and apply it. In addition to the core training topics, the G1000 NXi Essentials eLearning Course includes additional instruction on:

  • Vertical Navigation
  • Automatic Flight Control System
  • Advanced Features
  • User Waypoints
  • Managing Databases
  • Multiple Operational Flight Scenarios with different performance profiles

Build helicopter-specific system knowledge

The G1000H NXi Fundamentals course is designed for VFR helicopter pilots who are new to Garmin avionics, transitioning to advanced avionics, or perhaps want a refresher on the G1000H NXi. This allows the pilot to be comfortable with the avionics and maximize learning during valuable flight time. Learn how to take full advantage of the capabilities of the G1000H NXi system while gaining experience with operational use best practices. This virtual course allows pilots to learn at their own pace, details system features and provides a VFR flight scenario to show how these features are used in various phases of flight. Those that sign up for this course receive an additional scripted scenario for more practice through the Bell 407GXi G1000H NXi PC Trainer software, available for purchase online. The core training topics in the G1000H NXi Fundamentals eLearning Course have been tailored to helicopter-specific features and functionality, including differences for:

  • PFD and MFD function
  • Audio Panel Features
  • Hazard Avoidance Features
  • Operational Flight Scenario
  • Scenario-Based Exercise

Enhance IFR helicopter skills with G1000H NXi

The G1000H Advanced-IFR course provides a detailed look at the G1000H NXi system and illustrates best practices for operational use of the flight deck, with a focus on Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). The course uses phase of flight scenarios to demonstrate typical IFR helicopter operation, and depicts common practices to maximize the benefits of system features and capabilities. For helicopter pilots who fly search-and-rescue missions, emphasis on user waypoints are included in the course scenarios. Pilots can further practice what they learned throughout the course with one of the additional scripted scenarios provided for use with the purchase of the Bell 407GXi G1000H NXi PC Trainer software. Some helicopter-tailored training topics covered in the Advanced IFR eLearning Course include:

  • PFD and MFD function
  • Automatic Flight Control System
  • Hazard Avoidance Features
  • Advanced Features
  • User waypoints
  • Operational Flight Scenarios
Bell 407 GXi helicopter cockpit featuring Garmin G1000H NXi.
Bell 407 GXi featuring Garmin G1000H NXi

Proceed through the course at a pace that works best

Available immediately after purchase using a computer or tablet device with internet access, pilots can navigate through the virtual course at their own pace. Assessments throughout the course validate knowledge obtained of critical items while documenting the learning process. With the ability to pause lessons as needed to return to the lesson later, this is a convenient option for any pilot. Also, pilots can retake specific lessons or even the entire course during the subscription period.

The G1000 NXi Fundamentals eLearning course is available now for $94.95 USD, and the G1000 NXi Essentials eLearning Course is now available for $145.95 USD. Also available is the G1000H NXi Fundamentals eLearning Course for $74.95 USD, as well as the G1000H NXi Advanced IFR eLearning Course is available for $94.95 USD. For aviation training needs, including purchasing one of these eLearning courses, please visit

For additional information, please contact

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Garmin Pilot Adds Graphical Airspace and Obstacle NOTAMs, Updated Flight Profile View

Our Garmin Pilot app for Apple mobile devices now offers pilots the ability to reference graphical airspace and obstacle NOTAMs during pre-flight planning, and inflight for increased situational awareness. An enhanced user interface for Profile View also provides pilots the ability to access important information such as weather, PIREPs, and more, faster than ever before.

Graphical Airspace NOTAMS

Airspace NOTAMS are now available as a graphical overlay on the map. They can be depicted as a circle or other shape with the type and associated altitude of the NOTAM labeled for even more clarity depending on the selected zoom level. NOTAMs that are scheduled to become active in the next 24 hours are displayed in yellow to help alert pilots in advance and aid with flight planning, with a brighter contrast for areas showing upcoming restricted airspace. Active airspace NOTAMs are color-coded depending on the following classifications:

  • Red: Restricted and Danger NOTAMs, such as Prohibited Areas
  • Orange: Alert and Warning NOTAMs, including Military Operation Areas (MOA)
  • Gray: Flight Data Center (FDC) NOTAMS such as Instrument Approach Procedure changes
  • Purple: Other NOTAMs such as Parachute Jumping areas
Garmin Pilot on iPad showing map view with Graphical NOTAM feature.
Graphical Airspace NOTAM feature within Garmin Pilot for Apple mobile devices

For convenience, airspace NOTAMs can be viewed from either the map or flight plan page by selecting the NOTAMs layer from the map overlays menu. Pilots can view NOTAMs in both decoded and raw text by selecting the NOTAM segment in the radial menu. Further, NOTAMs may also be viewed by selecting the NOTAMs widget in spilt-screen mode.

Graphical Obstacle NOTAMs

Obstacle NOTAMs use pink obstacle figures on the map in order to differentiate obstacle NOTAMs from permanent obstacles and are displayed anytime the NOTAM or obstacle layer is enabled. Those obstacles that have since been removed are displayed for reference as a pink “X.” Obstacle NOTAMs are available from the map or flight plan page by selecting overlays from the map layer icon with the ability to be viewed in both decoded and raw text by selecting the obstacle segment in the radial menu. Also, for convenience pilots have the ability to view an Obstacle NOTAM list from the airport page and by tapping the map icon for a selected NOTAM, jump to that NOTAM right on the map.

Garmin Pilot on iPad displaying Graphical Obstacle NOTAM.
Graphical Obstacle NOTAM feature within Garmin Pilot for Apple mobile devices

Enhancements to the Flight Profile View

The new quick access bar in the Flight Profile View allows pilots to display critical flight information such as weather, PIREPs, and traffic from compatible Garmin ADS-B traffic sources with just a single touch. Using the new and simple Pinch-to-Zoom capability, pilots now have the ability to more seamlessly review parts of the flight by focusing on a particular segment in the Profile View while still being able to reference the basic flight profile above.

Garmin Pilot on iPad showing new Flight Profile View
Enhanced Flight Profile View within Garmin Pilot v10.3 for Apple mobile devices

The newest release of Garmin Pilot, version 10.3 for Apple mobile devices is available immediately. For new customers, Garmin Pilot is available in the Apple App Store as a free download for the first 30 days. After the 30-day trial period, customers may purchase an annual subscription of Garmin Pilot starting at $79.99. Garmin Pilot is supported by our award-winning aviation support team, which provides 24/7 worldwide technical and warranty support. Please visit for additional information.

Garmin Pilot v10.3

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Mythbusting – Safety Management Systems Help Even the Safest Operators

MYTH: If you have a solid safety management system, you don’t need to monitor flight data.

FACT: Even the best operators can benefit from a flight data monitoring program.

There is a common misconception that safety management systems and tools like flight data monitoring are there to help the operators with the poorest track records to improve. While these tools can be a tremendous help to such operators, introduction of flight data monitoring systems to operators with great safety records can still make a lasting impact.

For one example, look no further than the Bristow Group’s performance from 2007 to 2015.

By any measure, compared against the industry and peers, the Bristow Group had a fantastic safety track record. But even though Bristow was starting from a position where their accident rate was half of their industry, through safety management systems and flight data monitoring Bristow was able to cut their average accident rate by a factor of 10 over a six-year period.

No matter how consistently safe, or how much an operation has been struggling, flight data monitoring can be an incredible tool for driving lasting gains in safety and operational efficiency.

Contact us today for a conversation about how flight data monitoring tools can bring value to your operations.

Kris Garberg – President, Appareo Aviation

Understanding 4G LTE Categories

LTE consists of a range of different categories of modem, which can be integrated into telematic devices. These different categories include:

    • CAT NB1 (also referred to as NB-IoT)
    • CAT M1 (also referred to as CAT M)
    • CAT 1
    • CAT 4

In general, as you progress down the list above, the power consumption, throughput, and price of the devices increases (all considerably). When comparing specifications and capabilities of different telematic devices, it can be difficult to know what is the right level of capability for your cellular data transfer needs. This post will provide a brief summary and application-level insight to this area of potential confusion when specifying or purchasing telematic products.

NB-IoT and M1

Although these newer, low-energy cellular technologies are grouped together, they are not exactly the same thing. Most hardware that supports one also supports the other, so you can prototypically get both capabilities in a single package. This is new and cool, and will continue to grow in things it can accomplish within the geographies where it can be deployed.

Although you’ll hear NB-IoT and M1 discussed in the context of vending machines, pollution monitors, electric meters, and wearables, these technologies absolutely have a role to play in mobile vehicles and equipment. Here is what’s great about both NB-IoT and M1:

  • Very low power
  • Provide superior range over CAT 1 and CAT 4 modems (our testing has shown that NB-IoT and M1 devices frequently have cellular connectivity in areas where cell phones do not)
  • Lowest cost of any cellular components or data plans
  • Deploys using existing cellular infrastructure, so lots of new support is expected to come online
  • Secure

As my mother always told me growing up, nothing is free. There’s a trade-off for the lower power consumption, lower price, and improved range of the NB-IoT and M1 technologies. Here’s what you spend to get that goodness:

  • Lower data rate (~375 kbs)
  • Higher latency for wake-up applications

If you have a few sensor parameters, or a couple of buses of CAN data, to send on M1 is a great technology for mobile applications.


This is the bread and butter of telematic connectivity technologies. LTE CAT 1 is capable of supporting feature-rich telematic products with enough throughput to support streaming meaningful amounts of data while vehicles are on the go. The maturity of the technology makes it broadly available in a large number of geographies, with mature modem hardware and firmware support and a full-featured build-out of carrier capabilities. This technology is a little more expensive than NB-IoT and M1, but has the following advantages over those technologies:

  • Higher data streaming throughput (up to 10 Mbs)
  • Lower latency for wake-up applications
  • Broader global coverage

If you need to deploy a solution broadly for mobile equipment (touching dozens of countries), need to offload a fairly large amount of machine data in a hurry, or require support for streaming video or other data-intensive content, then CAT 1 is going to be the way to go for your application.


LTE CAT 4 modems can absolutely scream data. These modems can hit 150 Mbs, more than ten times the throughput of their CAT 1 counterparts. They are also complex, expensive, and power hungry. These modules are typically reserved for spaces like the handset market. Unless you need to aggregate a lot of data from a lot of machines, or provide streaming services to a large number of passengers onboard a vehicle, it is unlikely that the cost or complexity of this technology will be appropriate for your mobile application.

David Batcheller – President & CBO

Garmin Autoland Receives Aviation Week Network Grand Laureate Award

Garmin Autoland has earned another prestigious honor — Aviation Week Network’s 2020 Grand Laureate Award in the Business Aviation category. For 63 years, the Aviation Week Network has awarded the Grand Laureate for extraordinary aviation and aerospace achievements that embody the spirit of exploration, innovation and vision that inspire others to strive for progress, change and leadership.

“We are humbled and honored to be recognized by Aviation Week Network with this prestigious award in the Business Aviation category for the innovation of Autoland,” said Phil Straub, Garmin executive vice president and managing director, aviation. “The passion and commitment to safety through revolutionary developments like Autoland is shared by the entire Garmin team, who continuously drive our pioneering vision to develop advanced technologies that enhance aviation safety and potentially save lives.”

Passenger selecting Autoland button in Piper M600 SLS, Autoland activation screens displayed on G3000
Garmin Autoland available in 2020 Model Year Piper M600 SLS

The Grand Laureate Award adds to a growing list of accolades Garmin Autoland has earned to date. Earlier this year, Fast Company recognized Autoland as a finalist in its 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards category, ultimately taking home honorable mention in the all-encompassing Best World Changing Idea Award in North America. The Kansas City Tech Council awarded Garmin with its 2020 Outstanding Contribution to Tech Award for Autoland — an honor presented to organizations that developed, or partnered in developing, a product or service that significantly advances the tech industry in their respective field. Autoland also reached the finals in the Kansas Manufacturing Council’s Coolest Thing Made in Kansas competition.

Garmin Autoland is certified in three 2020 model year aircraft — Piper M600 SLS, Cirrus Vision Jet and Daher TBM 940. In an emergency where the pilot is unable to fly, Autoland can take complete control of the aircraft, autonomously navigate around hazardous terrain, obstacles and weather while communicating with air traffic control and passengers. The system automatically selects the best airport for landing, considering runway length, distance, fuel range and other factors, and autonomously flies the approach and landing to a full stop on the runway¹. For more information about Autoland or our suite of Autonomi autonomous safety-enhancing technologies, visit

¹See for Autoland system requirements and limitations

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Choosing the Bluetooth That’s Right For You

Since the introduction of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) in Bluetooth 4.0, there are now four technologies used under Bluetooth 4.0 and later revisions. Although the history of naming these technologies has led to much confusion, the generally accepted names are Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy. Bluetooth Classic represents the BR, EDR, and HS (AMP) technologies, while Bluetooth LE represents the LE technology.

Bluetooth Classic devices are typically used in applications requiring streaming of data, such as audio. The physical layer and protocol of BR/EDR make socket-like streaming of data easy to accomplish. Rates of these data streams may be around 2-3 Mbps.Bluetooth Low Energy brings about some great features beyond low energy operation, such as one-to-many and many-to-many communications, as well as connectionless services. BLE is often used for data transmission, location services, and device network applications. These interactions operate much more like a shared database of characteristics through the use of a Generic Attribute Profile (GATT). Most mobile devices such as phones, tablets, and computers support both Bluetooth Classic and Low Energy; however, many devices use one or the other.

Due to the differences in the physical layer modulation and demodulation, BLE cannot talk with Bluetooth Classic and vice versa. Similarly a BLE device cannot use Bluetooth Classic network and transport protocols when talking to a dual mode Bluetooth device. This is critically important for machinery manufacturers because although Bluetooth devices can typically communicate over a local area network to tablets and phones reliably, if you are going to use Bluetooth to communicate between machines and attachments, or between machine ECUs, you’ll need to select a protocol for the network of devices you’re managing.

As you consider specifying Bluetooth, there are a few high-level things to consider:

  • BLE can manage the data rates necessary to transfer typica data loads from mobile equipment busses (e.g. CAN buses running J1939)
  • Bluetooth Classic can handle a lot more data
  • Bluetooth Classic supports mobile devices tethering to telematic gateways or control units onboard machines and letting one device use the other’s data plan
  • Bluetooth Classic is much more energy intensive than BLE, so if you have a battery-powered application BLE is the way to go

In summary, if you have a network demand for a fairly large amount of data, and you have access to vehicle power (or battery life management is not a concern), Bluetooth Classic is a good way to go. If you’re a battery-powered application or do not require transfer of significant volumes of data, BLE provides attractive networking flexibility, low power, and a low price.

Michael Hoffman – Sales Manager, Land Mobile

G500 TXi and G600 TXi Flight Display Enhancements Now Available

Our G500 TXi™ and G600 TXi flight displays can now bring more capabilities to cockpit upgrades. Cirrus SR20/SR22 aircraft equipped with either legacy Avidyne flight displays or original flight instruments can now upgrade to the G500 TXi to display engine information. Additional enhancements to the TXi flight display series include DFC90 autopilot compatibility, new multi-function display (MFD) configurations, the display of additional engine parameters such as percent power and more. GFC™ 500 autopilot support is also expected for SR22/SR22T aircraft later this year. Also new, the turbine-engine equipped Piper PA46-500TP Malibu Meridian is compatible with the Engine Indication System (EIS) on the G500 TXi and G600 TXi flight displays. These upgrades are now available through select authorized Garmin dealers.

Cirrus SR20/SR22 TXi EIS display options

Cirrus aircraft equipped with legacy Avidyne flight displays can now easily upgrade to the G500 TXi to receive modern features and display capabilities, including the display of engine indications. Engine information such as percent power, turbocharged engine information, as well as support for electrical gauges displaying up to six parameters are also now available.

Cirrus panel featuring G500 TXi
Cirrus featuring dual G500 TXi flight displays

GFC 500 autopilot for the SR22/SR22T and Avidyne DFC90 autopilot compatibility

The GFC 500 is expected to be available for Cirrus SR22/SR22T aircraft models later in Q4, which will include features such as our Electronic Stability and Protection (ESP™), descent vertical navigation (VNAV1) and more.  The G500 TXi and G600 TXi systems are compatible with the Avidyne DFC90 autopilot in Cirrus SR20/SR22 aircraft models. When interfaced with an existing DFC90, both the G500 TXi and G600 TXi supports mode annunciation and full bug synchronization on the primary flight display (PFD). For added redundancy in aircraft equipped with dual attitude and heading reference system (AHRS), the DFC90 can utilize both sources of AHRS data. In the unlikely event of an AHRS failure, pilots have the option of selecting which AHRS source to use, allowing the autopilot to remain fully functional.  

New display page configurations and additional features

The 10.6-inch TXi flight display now features an MFD/EIS layout design, showing EIS data in a single strip on either side of the flight display that occupies 20% of the display. As an example, pilots now have the option of displaying moving map information on the remaining 80% of the flight display, or they can evenly split that into two windows (40% and 40% respectively) to show the moving map alongside an approach chart.

Pilot in TBM 850 equipped with G600 TXi and GTN 750Xi preparing for takeoff
TBM 850 featuring G600 TXi flight display

Turbine aircraft EIS

The Piper PA46-500TP is the latest addition to a growing list of aircraft that are capable of interfacing with the TXi system to display EIS information. Pratt & Whitney PT6A turboprop engine display compatibility is currently available for several popular aircraft models, including the Cessna 208/208B, Daher TBM 700/TBM 850 and the PA46-310P/350P JetPROP. The Piper PA46-500TP is compatible with the G500 TXi & G600 TXi and can display EIS information alongside PFD/MFD information on a single display. Features of the EIS system for turbine aircraft include engine timers, exceedance recordings, dynamic engine indications, as well as wireless data logging that combine to improve engine efficiency and reduce maintenance costs.

Additional features of the latest TXi upgrade include:

  • When the G500 TXi & G600 TXi is paired with the GTN™/GTN Xi series and the GFC 500 autopilot, the system performs automatic GPS-to-LOC switching.
  • Percent power can be viewed on the TXi displays for single-engine and twin piston, as well as turboprop aircraft.
  • Fuel quantity display compatibility expanded to include aircraft that have up to six fuel tanks.
  • Select twin Cessna aircraft with four fuel tanks are now capable of displaying fuel quantity on the G500 TXi & G600 TXi.
  • Fuel imbalance caution and alert advisory messages can be configured by a Garmin dealer during installation.
  • The TXi displays are now approved for interface with CiES fuel sensors.
  • A new vacuum gauge option supports aircraft that maintain a vacuum-driven standby instrument and systems.
  • TXi EIS bar gauges can be configured to display a digital value for piston aircraft.
  • Tach timers are now available for piston aircraft.

These new features for the G500 TXi and G600 TXi flight displays are available now through the Garmin dealer network. The TXi series also come with a two-year warranty, which is supported by our award-winning aviation support team. For additional information, visit or contact a local Garmin authorized dealer.

1.When paired with the GTN or GTN Xi navigator series.

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Garmin Aviation Training Team Adds Educational Webinars

The Garmin aviation pilot training team has announced additional instructor-led, scenario-based webinars. These free, one-hour courses provide online attendees with valuable product knowledge, operational techniques, and useful tips and tricks — without the concerns about travel and social distancing. They explore various Garmin avionics and provide foundational knowledge, flight planning and navigation techniques and much more.

Webinar Schedule

Garmin G3X Scenario-based Pilot Training Webinar

Nov. 23, 2020, at 7 a.m. CST: Sign Up

Nov. 23, 2020, at 10 a.m. CST: Sign Up

Nov. 24, 2020, at 7 p.m. CST: Sign Up

Pilot interacting with G3X Touch in cockpit of aircraft
Garmin G3X Touch

Garmin GPS Navigator Scenario-based Pilot Training Webinar (GPS 175, GNC® 355, GNX™ 375)

Dec. 15, 2020, at 7 a.m. CST: Sign Up

Dec. 15, 2020, at 10 a.m. CST: Sign Up

Dec. 16, 2020, at 7 p.m. CST: Sign Up

Garmin GTN™ and TXi Scenario-based Pilot Training Webinar

Jan. 20, 2021, at 7 a.m. CST: Sign Up

Jan. 20, 2021, at 7 a.m. CST: Sign Up

Jan. 21, 2021, at 7 a.m. CST: Sign Up

Garmin GNS™ Scenario-based Pilot Training Webinar – Part I

Feb. 15, 2021, at 7 a.m. CST: Sign Up

Feb. 15, 2021, at 10 a.m. CST: Sign Up

Feb. 16, 2021, at 7 p.m. CST: Sign Up

Garmin GNS Scenario-based Pilot Training Webinar – Part II

March 16, 2021, at 7 a.m. CDT: Sign Up

March 16, 2021, at 10 a.m. CDT: Sign Up

March 17, 2021, at 7 p.m. CDT: Sign Up

Garmin Accident Mitigation Pilot Training Webinar

Join us as we explore and discuss accidents in aviation history and how we can use Garmin avionics — including GTN series navigators — to help mitigate and alleviate those safety concerns in our everyday flying.

April 21, 2021, at 7 a.m. CDT: Sign Up

April 22, 2021, at 10 a.m. CDT: Sign Up

April 22, 2021, at 7 p.m. CDT: Sign Up

Garmin Presents: Cirrus Perspective+ Scenario-based Pilot Training Webinar

May 12, 2021, at 7 a.m. CDT: Sign Up

May 13, 2021, at 7 a.m. CDT: Sign Up

May 13, 2021, at 10 a.m. CDT: Sign Up

Airplane instrument panel featuring Garmin avionics
Garmin GTN 650Xi/750Xi, G500 TXi, GFC 600 and G5 electronic flight instrument

Garmin GTN™ Mini-scenarios – Pilot Training Webinar

Have a specific scenario you would like the training team to talk about? These webinars are your chance! Our team will be taking select scenarios, as requested by you, and have in-depth discussions on how best to accomplish the scenarios with Garmin avionics.

June 16, 2021, at 7 a.m. CDT: Sign Up

June 16, 2021, at 10 a.m. CDT: Sign Up

June 17, 2021, at 7 p.m. CDT: Sign Up

We also offer a limited number of computer (PC) and iPad trainers as a convenient way to learn the basic operation of select Garmin avionics. These trainers simulate the behavior of an avionics system interface — such as GTN, GTN Xi and TXi series products — and can be downloaded at or the Apple App Store. For all of your aviation training needs, please visit

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That radio interference might be coming from your cheap USB charger

In modern vehicles, people are more dependent than ever on the presence of a phone or tablet. Most new vehicles come with some sort of USB charging port that may even include USB communication to an in-vehicle infotainment system, allowing for streaming video, representation of CarPlay mapping on the vehicle display, etc. As consumers, we’re now accustomed to getting into a vehicle, plugging in our phone, and having that phone seamlessly connect and work with our vehicles.

But what if you don’t have a newer vehicle? What if your car, aircraft, RV, truck, or tractor was built before USB integration was a common customer expectation?

Well, if you’re like most you go buy an adapter that lets you plug in one or two USB devices through the auxiliary power outlet. These outlets, which you might call a cigarette lighter socket, were originally designed to power electrically-heated cigarette lighters but have since become interfaces where we all commonly plug in USB charging adapters.

When shopping for a USB charging adapter you encounter a shockingly wide array of prices for such devices. Many options are available at discount stores or online for as little as $2.00.

However, check out this USB charger manufactured by Genuine Volkswagen and Audi, MSRP $54.00. What is with the 25x markup from Audi on their USB plug? While it is possible that there is more margin stacked up in that automotive USB plug than in an online merchant’s unit, there is much more to this story. It can be simply summarized as:

The Audi plug meets automotive standards. The other plugs do not.

That means that the Audi charger has been rigorously testing against standards from both regulators and the vehicle manufacturer themselves. The cheap adapters have an ambiguous level of testing and are self certified by the manufacturer (with no regulator or manufacturer oversight).

So what?
For automobiles in which USB charging ports are integrated by the manufacturer, they are tested against automotive standards. These standards ensure the devices are fit for the environment and will produce a high-quality customer experience. For example, it is inconceivable that plugging a phone or tablet into the manufacturer’s USB port would cause interface on AM, FM, or two-way radios. Plugging in a device and getting a bunch of static on the FM radio or completely losing two-way radio communication is intolerable.

This is, however, a common occurrence when using charging devices that are not designed for automotive use. A lot of these chargers carry FCC/CE marks, look safe and legit, but ultimately damage your ability to receive and transmit radio communications. This could be as benign as negatively impacting your ability to receive an AM radio station, or as painful and inconvenient as knocking out two-way radio communication completely — especially if that is your aircraft VHF comm.

What do I do about it?
Not all chargers are created equally. There are absolutely some high quality products available through online retailers that won’t cause radio noise. Unfortunately there’s really not much one can do to qualify such a charger when shopping, and the only practical way for pilots to sort through them is to buy them, put them in the aircraft, and see what happens. Many of these chargers will cause radio noise, and that noise will vary from slightly inconvenient to completely unmanageable.

Here are a couple of things to take into consideration when making that choice for your aircraft:

  • USB charging technology changes VERY quickly. Just because you bought a charger from a specific brand and it worked, that does not mean that going back to the same supplier next time will provide a product that provides clean power without radio noise. This is because consumer devices are not governed by the same kind of engineering change control and certification practices as products that are regulated by folks like the FAA, or closely monitored by aircraft/vehicle OEMs with good design change control. A lot of consumer devices will roll fast with changes to new technology but repackage in the same tooling — therefore, buying what appears to be the same device might all of a sudden produce lots of interference.
  • Vibration activity in aircraft and cars is very different. A lot of consumer-style USB chargers are generally designed in a manner that will be friendly for an on-road automotive experience. It’s a much different environment in the ‘74 PA-28 or M20B that you fly around on the weekends. Aircraft vibratory loads can be rough on devices that are not designed for them, so you might burn through cheaper chargers not designed for the environment rather quickly.

If you really need the radio, and to power a device in the aircraft during flight, you should make sure you can do both with a lot of confidence and use a manufacturer-provided solution (in a new aircraft or service part), or purchase a certified charger that you know is going to work and deliver a consistent experience if it is ever replaced.

Then you’ll absolutely have a charging solution that will allow you to aviate, navigate, and communicate without worrying about losing that last word along the way.

Video examples of radio interference

Check out this experiment after he experienced interference in his RV:

For a deeper dive, watch this video from Kenwood (a radio company). They produced a demonstration with a two-way radio, which is a low-frequency radio (typically between 151 and 154 MHz) that operates in bands similar to those used in aircraft.

David Batcheller – President & CBO

What’s the difference between SIM and eSIM?

Connectivity technologies are confusing for people, and the industry is loaded with perplexing acronyms and buzzwords.

One of the most recent areas commonly fostering misconceptions is the difference between SIMs and eSIMs. This article is going to break it down in way that will hopefully help to inform your connectivity conversations.

Understanding SIMs
The abbreviation SIM means “Subscriber Identity Module” and the devices were originally created to identify which subscriber is associated with a phone. Most people have a specific physical impression of a SIM, which is a little plastic card that we slide into a phone. In fact, there are a number of different physical manifestations of what you would know as a SIM card.

The industry has different media on which a subscriber for a device can be identified. In general, manufacturers of rugged connectivity equipment strongly prefer and heavily leverage the MFF2 (M2M form factor). This is also sometimes referred to as a Machine Identification Module, or “MIM.” The reason manufacturers prefer these MFF2 units is because the vibratory specifications for aircraft and off-highway equipment are very unfriendly to SIM cards like the 3FF. During rigorous vibration tests, the shaking of the SIM card against its cage (which creates a phenomenon called fretting corrosion) wears through the very thin metal deposited on the plastic and destroys the card, resulting in the cellular function to stop working. Not cool.

Regardless of whether or not you have a 2FF, 3FF, 4FF, or MFF2 SIM/MIM, that hardware is really just a carrier for the UICC (universal integrated circuit card). This UICC is a read-only network profile. In other words, the device manufacturer will get a pile of chips (in any of the hardware manifestations shown above) that are pre-loaded with keys that cannot be changed during, or after, device manufacture.

Recently, it has become possible to purchase hardware that contains an eUICC (embedded universal integrated circuit card). This change means that instead of having a read-only network key on the SIM/MIMs that the manufacturers receive, this hardware can now be programmable and can host keys from multiple carriers on a single SIM/MIM. Some people initially think “great, I can tell AT&T to get lost and just program my unit over the air to work on Verizon whenever I want.” Unfortunately that isn’t true. Although that would be a great capability and introduce helpful flexibility for a lot of customers in many applications, you simply cannot do that today with an eUICC.

However, this is still really cool for manufacturers.
Here is why you should be excited about eSIM capabilities. Device manufacturers will often work with a carrier partner (e.g. AT&T, KPN, Rodgers, T-Mobile, Verizon, Vodafone, etc.) to certify a device with a specific carrier. Then, behind that carrier are dozens of local networks that will support these devices.

What the eSIM allows people to do is have multiple network profiles for local carriers on a single product, and update those over the air. When a vehicle travels from geography to another while using the same carrier, your device manufacturer can update the device to provision it for the local network, without changing a SIM. This is really powerful for getting products into geographies where cellular plan and regulatory constraints have historically driven a multitude of additional device SKUs and given manufacturers significant headaches managing equipment export — or equipment travel from one geography from another.

Some examples:

You build a vehicle in North America or Europe and export that vehicle to Brazil. This has historically been a really painful thing for manufacturers, requiring them to manage a SKU specifically for Brazilian equipment or have a local service representative input SIMs and execute local provisioning in a very manual way. All of this has a lot of friction in the manufacture and distribution of connected vehicles.

You have a vehicle that typically operates in one geography travel into another. If an aircraft flies, for example, from the United States to Brazil or from western Europe to Russia, sometimes such network transfers have been challenging for onboard connectivity equipment. The eSIM technology will significantly simplify such transitions.

For equipment manufacturers, eSIMs are going to be a powerful tool for simplifying connectivity of a fleet while minimizing the burden on the manufacturer and reducing the number of device SKUs required to achieve truly global connectivity.

David Batcheller – President & CBO