Common G1000 Mistakes, Part I

High Performance Aviation

September 16, 2011

D’Oh! That Wasn’t the Right Button!

By Hank Gibson, CFI, CFII, MEI

We have all been that pilot. Whether it is trying to load an approach or just set the altimeter, when we get in a rush, it seems the wrong button is always pushed. That can be frustrating when a flight plan is all programmed in, then it disappears. In my instructing career, I’ve seen my students do it many times. It never results in a safety issue, but it takes a little bit of time to get back to where they wanted to be. Over the next two articles, I will be addressing ten common G1000 mistakes. Here are the first five.

The Load Approach Button

There are two ways to load an approach on a G1000. The first is using the procedure button on the PFD. It is not very fast and there is a lot of button pushing and knob turning.

The second way is a little more streamlined and there is a lot less button pushing. Using the big FMS knob on the MFD, go to the nearest chapter. The nearest airport list is in the top right hand corner. Then, just simply press the FMS knob to bring up the cursor. Using the larger knob, scroll the cursor down to the desired airport.

Now what? The approaches for that airport will be in the last box underneath the airport list. The way to get to the approaches is just press the APCH soft key. The big FMS knob is then used to scroll to the desired approach.

STOP!!!! The normal response would be to press the enter button once the approach is highlighted, right? NO!!!! Don’t do it!!!! Pressing enter here will move the cursor down to the next approach. The proper button to press will be the LOAD APCH soft key. That will load the approach into the G1000.

Suspending the G1000 for GPS Holds

How often does a pilot receive a hold? Believe it or not, it does happen in general aviation sometimes! A lot of holds that I have heard about happen to airline captains who are waiting out storms, but I myself have received a few holds on approaches when the destination airport is pretty busy and I can’t get sequenced in (twice in the last week actually).

Now, on the G1000, when a pilot is told to hold at a specific fix and the hold is not part of an approach, all that needs to be done is pressing the OBS soft key, then use the course knob to situate the hold. If the hold is part of an approach, the right sequence of buttons needs to be pressed in order for this to work. Once the hold is entered, if nothing else is done, the G1000 will automatically sequence to the next leg of the approach. A lot of pilots forget the GPS does this, so when the flight plan shows they are supposed to be on the approach and they want to make another turn in holding, minor freak outs take place.

Again, this is another simple fix. Whenever the hold is entered, there is a soft key underneath the HSI that says SUSP. That is the suspend soft key. Once the pilot enters the hold, press the suspend soft key and the GPS will basically go on hold. Once he is done holding, then all he has to do is press the soft key again and the GPS will cycle over to the next leg of the approach.

Identifying Navigation Frequencies

Most experienced G1000 pilots don’t have much trouble with this one. Beginners, though, have difficulty remembering how to identify VOR and ILS frequencies. The sequence is actually quite simple. Once the pilot has the frequency tuned in on the NAV radio, make sure the blue frequency selector box is on the proper radio. Once this has taken place, just simply press the VOL button for the NAV radio, press the appropriate NAV radio button on the audio panel (NAV1 or NAV2), then the Morse code will be broadcast through the headsets.

Setting the Altimeter

This may sound like a simple thing, setting the altimeter, but people still mess it up, especially if the pilot hasn’t been in a G1000 in a little while and he is in a rush. What I have seen most people do is start turning the knob that says ALT on it, incorrectly thinking this is the altimeter. After a few twists, he will usually figure out that is not the right knob! The proper knob is the BARO knob, about halfway up the right sides of the PFD and MFD. Remember, it’s the big outer knob, not the triangular shaped course knob.

When to Push Enter

The mighty enter button, the button that does not often get pressed when it should be. The mistakes I have seen are when students are attempting to enter something into the GPS or the flight plan and they push the FMS knob instead of the enter button. This can be very frustrating when all the knob turning he just did disappears.

Here is an easy way to remember which button to press. The FMS knob only turns the cursor on and off. The enter button saves things into the G1000. So, whenever the pilot wants the G1000 to save a flight plan or an airport, press the enter button, not the FMS knob (exception: loading an approach. Reference the first section of this article).

Here is a start on streamlining G1000 usability. I will present another five items in the next article that will further enhance a pilot’s ability to work the G1000 quickly and effectively.

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