Piper Aircraft now offers Garmin G1000 NXi panels in new M500 turboprop and M350 pressurized piston singles. The company announced Jan. 8 that it had received FAA certification of the G1000 upgrade for those models, with plans to offer supplemental type certificate retrofits for the existing fleet later this year.
Garmin introduced the G1000 NXi in 2017, and while the exterior and interface of the popular G1000 remained virtually unchanged (to ease the transition for pilots), the hardware and software inside Garmin’s latest avionics suite were significantly improved to achieve new capabilities including faster initialization and map display, along with wireless connectivity for database updates and connections to Garmin Pilot and ForeFlight via the optional FlightStream 510 upgrade. The faster processor also allowed Garmin to offer new tools to enhance situational awareness such as SurfaceWatch, an optional upgrade that includes aural alerts designed to prevent runway and taxiway selection errors.
Piper spokeswoman Jackie Carlon explained that it took a bit of work to make retrofits possible because, unlike G1000 installations in some other aircraft, the NXi edition of the G1000 installation in Piper M-class products has evolved over time. Specifically the size of the multifunction display and audio panel changed, as well as the location of the autopilot controller when the company transitioned to the M350 and the M500. Piper engineers needed to work with Garmin to avoid the need for current owners to make significant physical modifications to the panel.
“There is some complexity,” Carlon said. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all.”
The cost of the M class retrofits are not yet finalized for that reason, though Carlon said Piper expects price will be similar to G1000 NXi retrofits available for non-Piper aircraft, which have so far ranged up to about $60,000, excluding labor.
Piper is also working to upgrade new Seneca V twins with G1000 NXi avionics, and expects to begin those deliveries in the fourth quarter.
Carlon said that despite the G1000 NXi upgrade, the M350 list price for 2018 remains unchanged from 2017, at $1.18 million, while the M500 list price increased slightly to $2.04 million, and that increase was not related to the NXi upgrade, Carlon said.