Garmin G1000 vs. Avidyne Entegra Avionics
By Brandon Ray, ATP, Master CFI, CFII, MEI
I often get asked about comparisons between the Garmin G1000 and Avidyne Entegra systems. Many Piper, Cirrus, and Columbia aircraft originally debuted with Avidyne glass cockpit systems before later switching exclusively to the Garmin G1000 (or Garmin Perspective as Cirrus calls it). So what’s the difference between the Garmin G1000 and the Avidyne Entegra?
Avidyne Entegra Avionics Overview
The Avidyne system was marketed as an “easy-to-use” glass cockpit system that interfaced with the familiar Garmin 430 GNS units. In some cases, the Avidyne airplanes would have only a multi-function display (MFD), but in most later examples, the Avidyne also included a primary flight display (PFD). The screens were simple. A couple knobs on each screen, a brightness dimmer, and a few line-select keys on the sides. The interface was mostly intuitive and made it easy for pilots new to glass cockpit planes. The Avidyne MFD could also allow for electronic checklists, and electronic Jeppesen charts to be displayed.
Is the Avidyne Entegra easier to use than the Garmin G1000?
Back when both avionics systems were in a competitive environment resulting from overlapping offerings at various OEMs, it was often argued that the Avidyne was easier to use than the Garmin G1000. However, having the Avidyne didn’t change the fact that a user would still be required to learn the Garmin functionality, because of the interface with Garmin 430s. While the Avidyne screens were simple to use, I would actually argue that there was more to learn with an Avidyne because you had to learn Avidyne logic in addition to Garmin logic. The Garmin 430s would be the brains of the GPS, which fed flight plan instructions and GPS positioning to the Avidyne PFD/MFD.
Between the years of 2006-2009, most manufacturers of general aviation aircraft transitioned to offering Garmin G1000 or Garmin Perspective as the standard avionics package on new aircraft.
Garmin G1000/Garmin Perspective Avionics Overview
The Garmin G1000 features two screens – PFD and MFD. The layout of the primary flight instruments shared similarities to the Avidyne and other glass cockpit layouts. On the MFD, you had access to the moving map in addition to multi-level page groups and pages. Ultimately the MFD had greater functionality than the Avidyne, as it combined many of the features found on the Garmin 430 GNS units. The G1000 was one of the first fully integrated systems, and eventually offered the coveted GFC700 integrated digital autopilot. One of the top safety features of the G1000 was the “reversionary mode” capability. This meant that if a display went out, you could revert the remaining display to show a condensed version of all essential flight data, including flight instruments, moving map, and engine instruments. The Avidyne did not have this capability. In addition, the Garmin G1000 later offered upgrades such as synthetic vision technology to give a 3D representation of your position relative to terrain. Overall, the G1000 was a step in the right direction for utilizing developing technological capabilities in aviation. It became the standard application for most manufacturers, and the Avidyne faded away from most OEM offerings.
Avidyne has been driven to innovation with their IFD systems and their upgraded glass cockpits (Avidyne R9). These newer systems offer competitive features that are similar, and in some cases, better than the Garmin G1000. However, with the high cost of upgrades and lack of sales at the OEM level, there has not been enough volume to keep up with the offerings from Garmin.
Is the Garmin G1000/Garmin Perspective better than the Avidyne Entegra?
Yes. In my opinion, the Garmin G1000 outshines the Avidyne Entegra avionics when you compare the capabilities, features, support, and reliability. This opinion is also supported by market values as G1000 airplanes, which routinely demand a premium of $30K-$50K over a comparable Avidyne plane.
Should I buy a plane with the Garmin G1000 or Avidyne Entegra?
The answer is, it depends. Only the person writing the check can determine the value that the G1000 brings to their mission. Personally, if it costs $30K-50K extra to get a G1000, I would personally find that a worthwhile investment. Ultimately that differential value will likely hold when it comes time to sell the airplane, whereas upgrades to older avionics are not usually recouped on a dollar-for-dollar basis at resale.
You should also consider the things that are most important to you. If acquisition cost is top priority and you’re paying cash, it might make sense to get an Avidyne plane at a lower cost. If you are buying the plane for a tax write-off, and/or you are financing the plane, you may find it easier to justify an increase in acquisition cost to have the avionics package you want on your plane. Lastly, you should consider the safety factor. What happens if a component goes out? What happens if a display becomes inoperative? How reliable is the autopilot? Do you fly mostly VFR or IFR? If you fly mostly IFR, you may want to spend extra to get the added redundancy and reliability of the Garmin G1000.