Many AOPA members believe that GPS moving map displays and other advanced avionics are contributing to loss of basic pilot navigational skills, AOPA President Phil Boyer told members of the Aircraft Electronics Association during his keynote address at the forty-third annual AEA convention May 7 in Reno, Nevada. [See also AOPA's avionics shop survey results.]
And owners of avionics shops attending Boyer's presentation agreed, signaling their opinions during his speech with AOPA's Perception Analyzer® instant response units. Some 66 percent of shop owners polled offered the same opinion, nearly matching 69 percent of AOPA members so responding in an April survey.
"The new 'gee-whiz' avionics on the exhibit hall floor at this convention are just the tip of the iceberg," declared Boyer. "It won't be long before many pilots—even those of many single-engine aircraft—will enjoy terrain mapping, ground proximity warnings, collision avoidance help, lightning strike data, radar returns, and near-real-time weather graphics and text. But the new avionics demand pilot vigilance, not total dependence.
"If a 'Love Bug' virus were to invade one of these modern marvels, we pilots must have the basic navigational skills to continue a safe flight."
Shop owners polled during Boyer's AEA speech also agreed with AOPA members on the level of difficulty in learning to use modern avionics. Have avionics become too complicated for the average general aviation pilot? About half of both AOPA members and shop owners said the difficulty of learning new equipment was only moderate.
But on providing training on new avionics, a surprisingly greater percentage of AOPA members (34 percent) believed training was the pilot's responsibility, compared to only 11 percent of avionics shop owners.
Over one third of shop owners (36 percent) believed the shop should provide training, while more than half (53 percent) said avionics manufacturers should assume the training responsibility. Two thirds of AOPA members who recently purchased a new GPS reported that their avionics shop offered no help in learning how to use the device.
AOPA's polling also highlighted relations between pilots and avionics shops.
Avionics shop owners at AEA also used AOPA's Perception Analyzer® to voice their opinions, and some of which could surprise aircraft owners. They included:
AOPA's 360,000-strong membership encompasses more than half the U.S. pilot population. About half of AOPA members own an aircraft, either solely or in partnership.
Since its founding in 1939, AOPA has led the fight to keep general aviation flying practical, safe, fun, and affordable.
May 12, 2000