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.