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3 min read

Are Avionics Upgrades Worth It?

By Sparkchasers on March 7, 2022

Approximately 30,000 turbine-powered aircraft have been manufactured within the United States over the past 50 years, and many of these planes are still in use today. Technologies, regulations and standards have changed greatly over the half-century, and today’s planes come with features that simply weren’t available even a few decades ago.

Avionics gives pilots and plane owners ways to update their older aircraft. From performance to value, these upgrades greatly improve the aircraft that they’re installed on.

Avionics upgrades come as integrated systems and non-integrated systems. 

Which is the better choice for a particular aircraft depends on the aircraft model, its condition, and the desired benefits.

Integrated systems are comprehensive in their scope, having multiple components that work together in a single system. These provide streamlined processes, both when flying and when servicing an aircraft. They can be installed on virtually any plane, but are particularly helpful on older aircraft that would benefit from multiple new features or advanced pieces of equipment.

Non-integrated systems allow pilots and plane owners to install the latest equipment in their aircraft, and to pick only the features they want. An a-la-carte option, these solutions afford a high degree of customization, and make it possible to upgrade specific features on relatively newer planes.

Additionally, non-integrated systems are a more affordable way to upgrade some of an aircraft’s systems. Pilots and owners can pay for just one or two upgrades, rather than all at once. Upgrading certain features can become expensive even if they’re done individually, however. For example, engineering a new autopilot is not inexpensive.

One way to mitigate some of an upgrade’s cost is to pick and choose from different original equipment manufacturers. Many non-integrated systems include equipment from multiple OEMs.

Four Avionics Upgrades to Consider

If you own a turbine-powered aircraft, consider one or all of these four common avionics upgrades. Each has the potential to increase your plane’s value, reduce the cost of maintenance/repairs, and make your plane safer to fly:

  • Auto-Pilot: Switching from an analog auto-pilot system to a digital one increases reliability and decreases costs. Digital systems are easier to repair and easier to use, keeping you safe in the skies while saving you money.
  • Digital Horizon: The artificial horizon, directional gyroscope or horizontal situation indicator in an aircraft is useful in everyday flight and essential in an emergency. Moving to a digital one makes for easier flying, as pilots can reference a single screen instead of four. When the plane’s direction is uncertain, that’s not just more convenient, but saves precious moments and decreases the risk of a mistake.
  • Altitude/Airspeed Indicators: Both analog and digital versions of altitude/airspeed indicators work well and are relatively simple to use. Analog versions have become much more expensive to repair as they’ve been replaced in modern planes, though.
    If your plane has analog altitude or airspeed indicators that have to be repaired, switching them to digital ones will likely cost about the same as fixing the analog ones. Digital indicators will be easier and cheaper to service in the future.
  • Clocks: Moving to a digital clock makes it possible to also include a USB charging port. Whether your phone’s battery runs low while taking a day trip or you have to charge work equipment, a charging port is useful to have.

Avionics Upgrades Are Worth Doing

These avionics upgrades are worth doing if your aircraft doesn’t already have the features. Some add convenience, some add safety, some add both -- and all add value. You’ll save money on services by making these upgrades, and you’ll increase your plane’s value no matter which ones you have installed.


Sparkchasers Can Help With Upgrades

To explore avionics upgrades for your aircraft, contact the professionals at Sparkchasers. Our knowledgeable team can help you explore the particular nuances of upgrading your plane, and answer any questions you have. We’ll also provide a free estimate for any changes that you’re interested in. 

Sparkchasers Aircraft Services specializes in expert installation and technology recommendations to customize your airplane’s flight panel with modern avionics from the top brands in the industry. Sparkchasers is an award-winning, experienced team that strives to provide excellent customer service, stay current with the latest avionics technology, and draws on years of experience to diagnose technical issues quickly and efficiently. Sparkchasers provides services for piston-driven, turboprop, and turbine engine aircraft. When you plan to upgrade your aircraft’s avionics or need FAA certifications completed, give us a call at (919) 934-1654 or visit www.flysparkchasers.com for a quick quote.

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