Garmin takes aim at LSA/Experimental instrument panels

January 21, 2009

Garmin GDU 370Garmin’s big, tablet-style GPSMAP 696 didn’t stay on pilot kneeboards very long. The company announced that the combined multi-function display (MFD)/electronic flight bag (EFB) will jump to the instrument panels of light sport and experimental aircraft in a slightly altered form known as the GDU 370 and GDU 375. There, with the addition of components now under development, they can be upgraded to primary flight displays and engine monitors that show real-time weather, traffic, terrain, and charts.

“The beauty of the GDU 370 and 375 are that they are like building blocks,” said Gary Kelley, Garmin’s vice president for marketing. “They’re expandable. They can be interconnected with other Garmin components… that will integrate and communicate with each other.”

The GDU 370 and 375 are virtually identical to the GPSMAP 695/696 in appearance, controls, and operating logic. The main difference is that the new units are meant to be mounted on instrument panels so they have ports, antennae, and computer connections on the back. Many GPSMAP 695/696 owners have come up with their own ways to mount the popular products on instrument panels, so Garmin is following their lead.

When connected to future Garmin products including air data attitude heading reference system (ADAHRS), engine information system (EIS), magnetometer, and temperature probe--the integrated system will be known as the Garmin G3X.

See the video of the GPSMAP 696 on which the new GDU 370 and 375 are based.

The GDU 375 includes an XM satellite weather receiver that allows it to display Nexrad weather, METARs, TAFs, lightning, winds aloft, and temporary flight restrictions. The GDU 370 doesn’t have satellite weather capability.

The GDU 370 and 375 products are scheduled for their first deliveries in March, and they carry retail prices of $3,295 and $3,995 respectively. The G3X system is scheduled to debut at Sun ’n Fun in April, and Garmin expects to deliver them in the second half of 2009 at a retail price of $9,995. The G3X PFD kit (ADAHRS and EIS, magnetometer and temperature probe) is $9,995. A top-end, one-display system GDU 375 plus G3X would be $13,990 ($9,995 + $3,995).

Dave Hirschman

Dave Hirschman | AOPA Pilot Senior Editor , AOPA

AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.