I'm training on a new GPS NAVCOM next week. (That is a GPS receiver that has an integrated communications radio and simulates traditional navigation instruments). This one talks to the radio navigation instruments and can combine their knowledge with its. The GPS can drive my HSI CDI so that I'm looking at the traditional instruments, but navigating by GPS information. This is good, because the traditional instruments have a better display and are right in front of me, so more comfortable to use. The system is complicated, but fortunately it's a Garmin, and I've used a lot of Garmin GPS receivers, so the logic isn't completely foreign; I'm working my way through the first online manual now.
Equipment like this has a lot of context sensitive keys. For example if you push the middle of the bottom right knob, you activate or deactivate the GPS cursor. If the cursor is deactivated, turning that knob changes screens, but if the cursor is active, turning that knob moves the cursor from field to field. But not to all fields. There's a separate cursor for changing VHS standby frequencies1, and two separate frequency swapping buttons. I like that, as I have been caught out on units that had one cursor, messing up my standby frequency just before I needed it, because I was hunting for the approach page. The section of the screen that acts as what would be labelled NAV on the analog radios is designated VLOC here. That represents VOR plus LOCalizer2, i.e. this radio is used to tune VOR or ILS frequencies. They needed a more specific term than NAV, because the whole thing is for navigation.
The 29 possible display pages are in logical groups, so you first use the bottom right knob, cursor deactivated, to select a group, i.e. NAV, WPT, AUX or NRST, then you turn the inside right knob to select an individual page within that group. I need to familiarize myself with which information is available on which pages. Setup is under AUX. Airport information is under WPT. If I get lost3, I can press and hold the CLR key to get back to the default NAV page.
Hmm, on page 17 it says that to stop navigating a flight plan I select Delete Flight Plan. Single use flight plans? That seems a little drastic. That option is usually Stop Navigation. It isn't until page seventy-five in the full Pilot's Guide that it confirms "Deleting a flight plan does not delete the waypoints contained in the flight plan from the database or user waypoint memory." You're really just deleting it from RAM and it's still stored, ready to be selected again.
Some of the pages can be accessed without going through the menu system. The approaches and all their associated pages are accessed with one touch, the PROC key. This is good. All those other pages are just pretty information screens. The approaches are going to actually tell me--or the autopilot4--where to go. The unit will tell me if I select an approach that has not been approved as standalone GPS. For such approaches I have to navigate primarily by the traditional nav aids, and monitor the GPS only for situational awareness. If traditional nav aids are available, I'll be monitoring them anyway, but it's a matter of what is driving my CDI5. I press the CDI button to select that, or "An ‘Auto ILS CDI’ setting provides automatic switching to ‘VLOC’ once established inbound on the final course segment of an approach." Nice, but dangerous, in the way that autothrottles are: more than one pilot accustomed to the airplane doing things for him has forgotten to do them himself when the occasion called for it. I'll have to make verifying that that AUTO CDI switch occurred a part of my routine.
Ever memorized something because you were told to, without being given enough context to use it or even understand it? I hate doing that, but I did so years ago in order to know the answers to questions I was told would be on the exam. I guess they were. I had to know the CDI scaling for different phases of flight. I don't remember them now, so I don't know if they are the same as on this 430, but the numbers here are:
|TERM||1.0 nm||<30 nm from destination or 1-5 nm from departure|
|APR||0.3 nm||<2 nm from destination when on a GPS approach|
I think those are full scale deflection each side. I'll have to confirm that with the next manual. I'll make the procedures for flying an approach on this unit a post unto itself, for another day, because despite all the bells and whistles, that's what I'm really here to learn. This whole week will be Garmin 430 posts.
Anyone know if there is an html tag that will automatically number footnotes, and superscript the index, like in LaTeX? Ideally it would provide internal page links to the footnote and back to the text, too.
1. If you press and hold the com swapping button for about two seconds, you get the emergency frequency of 121.5. I wonder how long it takes before the unit malfunctions and you risk getting 121.5 any time you swap frequencies. It's very common for older radios to double-flip when you try to swap them, leaving you talking to the same controller who just told you to switch frequencies. Embarrassing, but having that happen on 121.5 would be more so.
2. This makes VLOC a deeply recursive acronym, as VLOC is short of VOR/LOCalizer, and VOR is short for VHF Omnidirectional Range, and VHF is short for Very High Frequency, but no one ever thinks about what VOR stands for as they are saying it. It's usually pronounced Vee-Oh-Are, but there are a few people who say "vore." I suspect they are all students of the same eccentric flight instructor.
3. Lost in the menu screens, not lost flying the plane, nor can I get Lost the TV series on the little screen. It is in colour, though.
4. I'll believe that the autopilot works in this plane when I experience it myself.
5. The CDI is the little needle that tells me which way I need to correct to be on course.