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Garmin ending GNS 400/500 WAAS upgrades

Orders accepted until May 29

Garmin International will be ending Wide Area Augmentation System upgrades for the GPS receivers in its popular GNS 430/530 GPS/com navigators and similar products in the GNS 400/500 product line. Aircraft owners with units that have not been upgraded still have an opportunity to do so if they wish.

Garmin is discontinuing WAAS GPS upgrades to its popular GNS 430 navigator and other products in the GNS 400/500 line. The GNS 430 was made from 1998 to early 2012. Photo by Mike Fizer.

“In order to support future GNS 400W/500W-series repairs, Garmin will be ending WAAS upgrades for non-WAAS GNS 400/500-series products on May 29, 2020. WAAS upgrade orders can be placed up until this date; however, units must be received by Garmin by June 30, 2020,” Garmin said in a statement. “Garmin has made deliberate investments to continue serviceability. Repairs will continue to be available for the non-WAAS 400/500 series 28-volt units with 16-watt com transmitter and all 14/28-volt non-WAAS 400/500-series units. These units will not be able to be eligible for the WAAS upgrade after May 29, 2020, but repairs will continue to be available after this date.”

Garmin announced the GNS 430 in the summer of 1998, and it was revolutionary in general aviation at the time. The GNS 430 integrated an IFR-approach-approved GPS receiver with a 760-channel com radio and a VOR/localizer/glideslope receiver, along with a sunlight-readable, eight-color LCD display that was large for the day. At the time, Garmin promised WAAS upgradability, even though the standard did not yet exist. The similar GNS 530, with a larger, five-inch-diagonal screen, was introduced later that year.

The GNS 430/530 series was popular in the marketplace for more than a dozen years, with about 120,000 units sold by the time Garmin unveiled its successor—the GTN 600/700 series—at the Aircraft Electronics Association convention in March 2011. “We couldn’t just make small, evolutionary changes to a product like the GNS 430/530 and expect people to be satisfied with it,” Gary Kelley, then Garmin vice president of marketing, said at the time. “We had to create something completely new that made flying easier and safer. Whatever we did, it had to be so compelling that existing 430/530 customers would want to upgrade—and that’s not easy when you’ve got a product that pilots know, like, and seems to last forever.”

“We started the WAAS upgrade program in 2003, so we’ve offered WAAS upgrades for the GNS series for over 17 years,” said Jessica Koss, Garmin aviation media relations specialist, noting that the company continues to support the first GNS 430 units some 22 years after they entered service.

Garmin discontinued the GNS 530W/500W in late 2011, and the GNS 430W/420W/400W in early 2012, following the introduction of the GTN 650/750 in early 2011, she said.

The FAA’s mandate for ADS-B Out, which became effective in January 2020, influenced Garmin’s decision to continue offering the WAAS upgrades. “Because GNS WAAS upgrades were a part of so many aircraft owners’ equipage plans, we strived to keep enough parts available to support GNS WAAS upgrades until the ADS-B mandate went into effect,” Koss said. “The demand for WAAS upgrades was strong leading up to the ADS-B mandate, but has since slowed.”

A WAAS-compliant GPS navigator meets ADS-B Out position accuracy requirements, and upgrading an existing GPS navigator reduced the cost of ADS-B compliance for many aircraft owners. A WAAS navigator also opens up the new generation of GPS instrument approaches, including LPV and LNAV/VNAV approaches, which are increasingly important to active instrument pilots as NDB and VOR approaches are phased out.

Garmin notified dealers it was ending the WAAS upgrade program in March, providing customers two and a half months to request the WAAS upgrade and an additional month to have the unit sent in by a Garmin dealer. Additional information is available from authorized Garmin dealers.

Mike Collins
Mike Collins
Technical Editor
Mike Collins, AOPA technical editor and director of business development, died at age 59 on February 25, 2021. He was an integral part of the AOPA Media team for nearly 30 years, and held many key editorial roles at AOPA Pilot, Flight Training, and AOPA Online. He was a gifted writer, editor, photographer, audio storyteller, and videographer, and was an instrument-rated pilot and drone pilot.
Topics: Aircraft Modifications

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