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Exclusive first look: Seneca goes G1000

With its March issue, AOPA Pilot is the first to report on a Garmin G1000 panel upgrade for the venerable Piper Seneca V. According to Piper President and CEO Simon Caldecott, the switch from dual Garmin G600 displays to the full-up G1000 glass cockpit better positions the Seneca to take market share from the only other piston twin in regular production, the Beechcraft Baron.

“We’ve traditionally taken about 50 percent of the [piston twin] market,” said Caldecott. “This is an opportunity for us to take more by upgrading our product with new technology.”

Unique to the Seneca’s G1000 installation is the use of dual pointers to show left and right engine parameters. Other twin installations use overlapping pointers, which Piper engineers believe can be confusing to pilots, especially in an engine-out situation. “We worked closely with Garmin to assure that we presented the engine information as clearly as possible,” said John Kronsnoble, Piper engineering test pilot.

With dual attitude heading reference systems, dual alternators, and an emergency battery, the Seneca has lots of redundancy, but Piper went further with an all-glass solution by including an Aspen Avionics standby system with its own back up battery.

Exclusive to the Seneca V, at least for now, is the G1000’s ability to build user-defined holding patterns on the fly. As described in the March Pilot cover story, Kronsnoble showed how a pilot can build a holding pattern at a point in space ahead of the airplane or along a radial from a waypoint. The selections for course, time (or distance), and direction of turn are entered via menus on the multifunction display. A thumbnail map shows the hold as it is built. The pilot can also enter the expect-further-clearance time, so the G1000 can issue a reminder when it’s up.

Once enabled, the Seneca V’s S-Tec Fifty-Five X autopilot will automatically enter and fly the hold.

Piper plans to deliver the first 10 or so G1000-equipped airplanes this year, starting in April. In early 2014, the model will get an additional upgrade to take advantage of the Garmin GFC 700 flight control system found on many other G1000-equipped airplanes.

Base price for the six-seat twin is $972,400, the same price as earlier G600 2013 models. Well-equipped, such as the one flown for the AOPA Pilot article, a Seneca V will tip the scale at about $1.15 million.

Thomas B. Haines

Thomas B Haines

Contributor (former Editor in Chief)
Contributor and former AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines joined AOPA in 1988. He owns and flies a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza. Since soloing at 16 and earning a private pilot certificate at 17, he has flown more than 100 models of general aviation airplanes.

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