Friday, July 10, 2009

IFR for under $10,000? You betcha!

I must be missing something, but it seems that I could get Papa set up for non-precision GPS IFR with a 2-axis autopilot for under $10,000. Interesting, yes, but it still ignores the issue of where the $10,000 is going to come from. Let's just wish that little problem away for the sake of argument, though.

So here's what I'm thinking:

A Dynon D-6 for attitude.
A Dynon D-10A for navigation display and autopilot control
A Garmin GNC 300XL TSO for IFR GPS and Comm.

The prices break down thusly:

- D-6: $1,600
- D-10A: $2,200
- GNC 300 XL: $3,150
- Heated Pitot: $450
- OAT Probe: $ 65
- Backup batteries for D-6, D-10A: $260
- Roll servo and mounting kit: $825
- Pitch servo and mounting kit: $825

Total: $9,375

You'd have to add some dollars for wiring, etc. but that shouldn't exceed $500. And because it pains me to do it, I'm not including sales tax. That would probably put me over the magical, mythical $10,000, but literary license allows me to ignore that for now.

Here's kinda-sorta what it would look like:

And what would I get for that? Well, the IFR minimums for a GPS non-precision approach into Bolton are right around 500(AGL) and 1/2 mile visibility. An ILS set-up would add thousands of dollars and only get me 300 feet lower, so I deem that to be "not worth it."

IFR aside, just the 2-axis autopilot would make it worth the money. It's hard to quantify safety-of-flight value, but the value of an autopilot is pretty easy to understand.

So, here I am back to Dynon. How long have I been stuck here? Since four days after I took delivery of Papa, as it turns out:

If I were to do it now, though, I'd move the Dynon units one row to the right on the panel. They'd be closer to the GPS/Comm that way.


  1. Get a 2 1/4" (instrument panel hole) Digitrak from TruTrak for $1695. Interface it with your Garmin handheld and you get a reliable autopilot. Use your trim to maintain altitude. It is the cheapest solution and will make your cross country much more enjoyable.

  2. Really, Ted, I have to ask: whose side are you on? :-)

  3. I can't figure out how you get a two-axis autopilot for $1650

  4. As I understand it, the autopilot is built into the Dynon D-10A EFIS and all you need to do is hook up the servos.

    " EFIS can become an autopilot for the incremental cost of servos ($750 each). Adding servos to any Dynon EFIS or FlightDEK turns it into a full-featured dual-axis autopilot at a total cost that is comparable to other autopilot-only solutions."

  5. Dave... I can't tell for sure from the photo, but if you don't already have at least a VOR in the panel, you won't be legal to fly IFR with just the GNC 300XL. I don't have the reference here in front of me just now, but this is something I've looked into quite a bit so I'm pretty sure it's correct.

    The other thing is that with an IFR GPS you need external annunciation to be legal, and to properly interface the GPS to an EFIS for IFR use you also need to use the ARINC 429 bus, which I'm not sure the Dynon supports.

    Good luck!

  6. Dave, I believe if you want IFR you better get something more than what you planed for (more $$$ and begging co-owner harder). I don't like the idea of integrated EFIS/AP. When one fails I need the other as my back up. Of course a VOR is a must (legally). It is not safe neither fun just have minimum equipment for real IFR. On the other hand if you are happy with VFR cross country, get an expensive AP will make your cross country trip much more enjoyable. It is like having co-pilot Rick permanently seated in your plane even when he is not. I bet you when we arrive at Niagara Falls (in August) my arm will be more relaxed than yours.

  7. Hi Dave. Do you have more info on the heated pitot tube? I haven't riveted on my bottom skins yet on my RV-9A. I've already installed the "Van's" version of the poor man's pitot tube.

  8. I was looking at the heated pitot on page 9 of this pricing list: