For the first time ever, the FAA has approved non-technical standard order (non-TSO) avionics as primary flight instrumentation in a standard-category airplane. CubCrafters has the FAA’s blessing to install Garmin G3X avionics suites in its factory-built XCubs, and it’s already doing so for its 2018 model year.
The touchscreen G3X PFD/MFD (along with digital autopilots) are approved under a first-of-its-kind amendment to the XCub type certificate.
CubCrafters has installed hundreds of Garmin G3X avionics suites in Carbon Cubs flown for years under light sport and experimental rules. But FAA approval to put the powerful, relatively low-cost G3X systems in a standard-category airplane opens the door for aircraft and avionics manufacturers to install similar non-TSO avionics in new airplanes, as well as the existing fleet of legacy aircraft.
The FAA has shifted to what it calls a risk-based certification philosophy in evaluating new technology, and it has apparently concluded that the G3X system is safer than the mechanical attitude instruments that preceded it.
The G3X shows aircraft attitude information as well as GPS-derived synthetic vision; an angle-of-attack indicator; and a moving map with weather, terrain, and traffic warnings. It also can drive a digital autopilot with a one-touch level button. (Optional features include remote radios, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast In and Out, and a remote transponder.)
“We believe the added capabilities and value offered by this new panel are game-changing,” said CubCrafters President Randy Lervold.
CubCrafters applied for FAA approval through the agency’s Seattle aircraft certification office, and their actions were approved by the FAA Small Airplane Directorate in Kansas City.
CubCrafters developed the XCub in secret during a six-year certification process, and unveiled the airplane last year.
The XCub is a VFR-only aircraft, and that restriction will remain even with the new G3X instrument panel, company officials said.