Common G1000 Mistakes, Part II

by HPA · September 23, 2011

D’Oh! That Wasn’t the Right Button!

By Hank Gibson, CFI, CFII, MEI

Last week, I addressed five common G1000 mistakes that pilots have. In that article, most of the items I talked about were simple mix ups with soft keys. This week, the five errors I will discuss involve more of a lack of knowledge on the pilot’s part with the G1000, not necessarily mixing certain keys up.

User Defined Waypoints

User defined waypoints are extremely handy, but a lot of G1000 pilots do not even know they exist. All instrument pilots are familiar with waypoints. Waypoints are what make up GPS IFR routes. User defined waypoints can be utilized for any type of pilot, whether IFR or VFR.

Let’s say that a pilot wants to fly a friend over the local football stadium, but the stadium is not shown on the sectional chart. He knows the roads that intersect just outside the stadium, and he wants to fly directly to the stadium, but it is not depicted in the G1000 software. This is where a user defined waypoint comes in.

To set the user defined waypoint, start by pressing the range knob on the MFD to bring up the cursor. Then, simply move the cursor over the point where the waypoint is desired, then press enter. This will bring up a screen where the pilot can name the waypoint. Once the waypoint is named, press enter and the G1000 will save the user defined waypoint in the G1000 database. It can be inserted in a flight plan, used to fly direct to it, or whatever the pilot desires.

In IFR flight, when a pilot is flying direct somewhere, user defined waypoints can come in handy as fuel checkpoints. Every certain number of miles (depending on how fast the airplane is), a pilot can set a user defined waypoint to calculate fuel burn.

“Fly Direct To”

The smartest thing I have seen my students do is load their flight plans on the ground, getting all their waypoints plugged in, and getting the GPS all set up so they do not have to mess with it while airborne. It reduces workload in the air and leads to less stressful flying.

The problem arises, though, when the student takes off from a runway facing the opposite direction then his or her course and ATC tells them to fly direct to the first fix on the route. The flight plan in the G1000 is already set to fly directly to the fix, right? So, why not just turn to intercept the course? That is not flying direct to.

The flight plan was set on the ground, so the GPS has the course set direct to from the ramp to that fix. If the student turns on course and tries to center the needle, that is not what the controller had in mind. Easy fix here: highlight the fix on the flight plan, press direct to, and now the GPS is set up direct to the fix!

Fuel Status

One of the greatest innovations on the G1000 is the ability to track fuel burn. It’s wonderful. As long as the pilot knows how much fuel is in the tanks before the engine starts, and it’s input properly, the G1000 will keep track of how many gallons per hour the mixture is set at and how much fuel has been used.

The error here comes when the fuel is set improperly. Whether the pilot forgot to set it or didn’t measure right, it becomes a problem when there is less fuel in the tanks than the G1000 says. Be a studious pilot, check the fuel, and set it properly on the G1000. It helps reduce workload and produces less stress on those long flights when a pilot starts thinking, “I hope these fuel calculations are right, because it looks like it’s going to be close!”

One post script on this note: do not trust the fuel status over the fuel gauges. If the fuel gauges are reading differently than the fuel status, trust the gauges.

Activating a Leg on the Flight Plan

Sometimes, the flight plan cycles over on the G1000 when the pilot does not want it to. Maybe it activates the leg from the final approach fix to the missed approach point when the airplane is still outside the FAF. How to fix this? Press the flight plan soft key, highlight the fix you want to go to, press menu, highlight activate leg, than press enter.

MFD Map Orientation

Do not worry, this will not be a section on trying to sway pilots one way or the other on using north up, track up, or heading up. That debate will probably go on for ages of which is better, but it simply comes down to personal preference. Pilot/owners will not have to worry about changing the map orientation so much since they will be the main ones flying the airplane and will keep it set how they want it.

How to change the map? Again, it is relatively simple. When the moving map is up on the MFD, press the menu key, bringing up a menu. Select map setup, press enter, then using the larger FMS knob, scroll down to map orientation, then using the little FMS knob, select north up, heading up, desired track up, or track up and press enter.

Hopefully, this will ease pilot frustration with the G1000 and create more streamlined usability. After all, Garmin created them to cause flying to be easier and to create more situational-aware pilots.

Happy flying.

How it Started

One of my best friends in high school, (Doug Gray) was a private pilot. He offered to take me up for a flight in a 1967 Cessna 150, N6228S. We took off from Calhoun, Georgia, and he took me on a scenic tour of the area, I was hooked. I later found out that my English teacher, (Jan Haluska) was also a flight instructor and the school was offering a ground school course the next year, which he taught, along with flight training with the goal of becoming a private pilot. I managed to talk my dad into funding the training, at the time the total cost was right around $500. Cessna 150 rental rates where $12 an hour, and the 172 we used for cross country was $15 an hour including fuel.

Training Begins

It started August of 1977. The fall semester rolls around, and I am enrolled in ground school, and if memory serves me, we met twice a week. First came the paperwork for my student pilot certificate, which at the time was included with the 3rd class medical. I loved ground school, especially learning navigation, plotting courses on the sectional, again this was before iPads and GPS, so we did a lot of dead reckoning and VOR navigation for cross countries. At the end of the course, I made an 83% on the Private Pilot written exam, remember this was before we had the question-and-answer books that on future test I would consume before taking a written.

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The fun really began on August 22, 1977, it was my first flight. To my surprise we used the same Cessna 150, N6228S that my friend Doug Gray had taken me for a ride in. The Cessna 150 had a standard VFR instrument panel, with one NAV/COM, and one VOR CDI. No intercom, so no headset, at the time I didn’t know what I was missing. I didn’t get my first headset until I started my instrument training in 2003. I was a big guy, I was 6’ 4” and weighed 245 lbs. but I do not remember being uncomfortable in the 150 even with the instructor in the right seat.

First flight lasted .8 hours, and we accomplished orentation, shallow turns, stability, and effects of flight controls. Over the next few months we added steep 720’s, slow flight, stalls, turns around a point, S-turns, emergencies, landings, (short field, soft field and normal).


At this point I want to talk about a training experience that still stands out. We were close to solo and were practicing takeoffs and landings. Turning base to final Jan got very upset at the way I was cross controlling the aircraft. Cross control is when you are in, say a left turn, and use opposite rudder to line the nose up with the runway. So, he had me depart the pattern and head east to the practice area, and climbing up to 5500 feet MSL, he had me slow down to just above stalling speed, start a left shallow turn and add right rudder. As the airplane stalled I had the strangest sensation, no roller coaster has ever come close, instead of blue sky in the windscreen I was looking at brown ground, and as far as I could tell we were upside down, through the terror of the moment Jan talked me out of the spin, controls neutral, oposite rudder, pull slowly out of the dive. As we leveled off he asked me what altitude we were at, as I remember it was around 2,800 feet MSL. Then he asked me what would happen if I experenced this on base to final in the traffic pattern. The answer was obvious, I would be a pile of wreckage off the end of the runway with a very short-lived aviation career. Needless to say this cured my cross-control tendencies.

Another training event the sticks out in my mind was the first time we did takeoffs and landings at the High School runway. The runway was 1,500 feet long, not sure of the width, but it seems like we had about 5 feet on each side of the wheels when on the center line of the runway. Landing from the south you also had to go between a cutout in the trees to be able to stop in time on the runway. After getting confortable landing here every runway since seemed huge. I remember landing at Chattanooga (KCHA) on a night cross country and commenting to Jan, that I felt like I could of landed sideways on the runway, it felt that large.

Very soon after this I started wearing old shirts to all my flight lessons, the reason for this occurred on February 8, 1978. The lesson that day was stalls, takeoffs and Landing. As we were taxing back in Jan told me it was time for my first solo. I was very excited, and after some last minute advice from Jan, including watch for floating on landing the plane will be light with him not in the right seat, complete 3 takeoffs and landings to a full stop. It was a blast, and at the end of my shirt was shorter in the back because Jan cut the tail out of it signed and dated my solo [an aviation tradition]. Total flight time accumulated on the day of my solo was 18.1 hours. I was now officially a pilot with solo priveleges.

In my next article I start cross country training, when Jan decided that it would be best accomplished this in the 172. Checking out in N5970R was like moving into a 747, this started a love affair with one of my faviriote planes to date. Since this time I have flown over 900 hours in many different models of the 172 and feel like I am stepping into an old friend every time.

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