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Take a Look: Sarasota Avionics' First Garmin G500 TXi Installation

Sarasota Avionics recently completed a custom panel retrofit in a Beech Bonanza B36TC, featuring Garmin's brand new G500 TXi system.

Click on the images below to view a larger version:


Installed Equipment:


Write-up from TJ Spitzmiller, General Manager of Sarasota Avionics' SRQ location:

I have been involved in aviation virtually my entire life (had my first hour of dual at the tender age of 5) and has resulted in many personal and professional opportunities. I received my private pilot certificate in 1985 and became involved professionally while working in Supply Chain Management that involved aircraft and avionics OEM’s, including aerospace suppliers and STC engineering solutions. Being presented with an opportunity at Sarasota Avionics has far exceeded my career expectations. I am now able to bring the highest level of advanced general aviation cockpit technology straight to our customers.

When Garmin announced the New G500/600 TXi flight displays last fall, I already had the perfect candidate on standby. The Bonanza B36TC is one of the most capable piston aircraft in the world and it would be just a phone call away to schedule a complete technologically advanced aircraft upgrade.

The owner of this airplane just happens to be my best friend (and a Southwest Airlines pilot) and if I wasn’t already his, I would soon be. I was banking on forty years of friendship and trust to get this bird in our hangar. My friend’s excitement level was high when I presented my plan and I’m grateful he let us take on this task.

The airplane arrived in late January 2018. After a thorough evaluation with the technician, we determined that March 30 would be our target delivery date, providing the highly anticipated G500TXi could come in by mid-February. All other equipment was already on hand and a thorough pre-inspection soon began. This inspection encompassed a thorough scrutiny of the aircraft condition and complete evaluation of all existing avionics equipment. In this case, the customer traded in the GNS530W, GNS430W, PMA8000B and GTX330. These trade-ins went further in the process and received a full bench evaluation, which allows us to apply our standard warranty and an 8130-3 on used avionics that are resold.

The entire panel was disassembled, and an inventory was taken on each component removed. The weight of the items was recorded along with part number and serial number. The interior was next, and this included removing everything but the center headliner.

We got word that that the G500TXi delivery would be delayed 30 days, so all the wiring for the other equipment commenced. The GTN’s, transponders and audio panels are installed daily using standardized processes developed over the years to minimize risk. Creating an entirely new panel allowed us to clean up forty years of antiquated wiring and all the gremlins associated with it. Most of the existing avionics wiring was either removed or replaced with high grade wire and cable per the STC installation instructions. A new BUS bar was created, and new circuit breakers were added.

Within four weeks, we had the ESI500, GTN750, GTN650, GMA-35C, GTX345R and MD93 powered up. The G500TXi arrived in a few days and it didn’t take long to integrate the new system for configuration. All components soon communicated with each other as required, which allowed us to install in the prototype acrylic panel. The acrylic is used so we can see where the interreferences are and allows for an inexpensive method to change the position of the avionics— if required. This is when we invite the customer down to approve the design or simply send pictures or video. In this case, I was trusted by the customer to provide my input and suggestions, which he accepted.

At this point we checked the operation of all existing avionics. In the Bonanza, the only remaining items were the KFC200 autopilot and aircraft lighting. The autopilot uses the GAD43e in place of the old attitude indicator for pitch and roll inputs. Our test equipment allowed us to prove out the autopilot and reset the gains that were previously out of adjustment— as noted by the yoke rocking back and forth in level flight.

The primary engine indicators were next on the list and this would be a first using the TXi. Our A&P mechanics install engine instrumentation daily and this proved to have only minor challenges. We did have to order a couple of additional items such as a manifold pressure transducer. The GEA110 was powered up via the TXi and all parameters were set and configured with the values provided VIA the POH.

The magnetometer was then installed which provides heading input to the G500TXi and L3 ESI500. Two outside air temperature sensors were required under the wing for each unit as well. On a side note, the temperature sensors are required for the synthetic vision. Why? To account for cold temperature errors which could place the aircraft closer to the surface than the altimeter indicates —per AC20-167A.

When the new metal panel arrived, all of the instruments were installed for one final fit and functional check. Calibration was completed for the ESI500, G500TXi, ADAHRS & altitude encoder. With everything working, we tackled a few items outside the scope of work such as an inoperative electroluminescent (EL) panel and dimmer module. The aluminum panel was then sent back for powder coat and silk screening. While we waited for the finished panel, the interior was reinstalled, and the aircraft detailed. While things were still open, an IFR certification commenced and new databases were installed in the G500TXI, GTN750 and GTN650. The Flightstream 510 allows the databases to be transferred from a tablet via a wifi connection after the initial install from the SD card.

When the panel returned, the components were set back in and another ground check was run. This also consisted of a magnetometer calibration and compass correction using the compass rose nearby.

That evening, the airplane was ready for its maiden G500TXi flight test. The event did not disappoint and flying behind this panel was amazing! The airplane passed the trial with flying colors and my friend Greg now begins years of enjoyment with this newly capable bird.

Learn more about the G500 TXi here!