Engine management became a breeze with EGT (Exhaust Gas Temperature) information for each cylinder being graphically displayed so that the pilot can use the automated “lean assist” system to lean back the mixture more accurately. Rate of fuel consumption, fuel remaining and time to fuel starvation all help the pilot manage the aircraft more wisely. The RPM, Oil Temp and Oil pressure gauges are clearly displayed as is the electrical positive/negative charge information. This last one is especially important in an electrically powered glass cockpit!
The flight instrumentation is what’s really great. RPM, VSI, DG, AH and Altimeter are all summarised on one clear screen directly in front of the pilot. The turn and balance took a little more getting used to as I endeavoured to keep the two small triangles matched up in turns (I personally like the simplicity of the ball bearing in a trough slide). What I really enjoyed was the autopilot and the ease in which it is integrated into the main flight display for setting the altitude, VSI and heading bugs. It’s an absolute breeze to link either of the Garmin 430s into the autopilot for directional control.
I ended up flying the Archer from Moorabbin to the Gold Coast and back and loved every minute of it. What I enjoyed the most was that it removed a lot of the pilot workload so that I could concentrate on other things such as enjoying the trip. Trust me when I say that as soon as you start up and the screens come to life you will still get the appropriate mouth-gaping response from your passengers.
Despite all of the technology and the incredible ease of using the glass I still find myself staring at the analogue ASI and Altimeter on the left hand as soon as I enter the circuit. There is just something about those older instruments that seem to engender a sense of confidence and familiarity that is missing from my experiences to date in a pure glass cockpit....