Piper Saratoga Avionics Install: Part 1

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The age of general aviation aircraft in the United States is much higher compared to automobiles, with some planes being more than 40 years old. Many owner-operators look to upgrade their planes for enhanced safety and features. The article discusses the process of panel upgrades and finding the right installer. Gardner Lowe Aviation Services (GLAS), led by Karl Gardner, is a reputable avionics specialist that offers installation services backed by Garmin. The article also mentions strategies to cope with the rising cost of ownership, such as partnerships and aero clubs. Mitchell Aviation Services assists with logistics, and the article teases a future video of the panel upgrade process.

I don’t own the rights to this content & no infringement intended, CREDIT: The Original Source: www.flyingmag.com

Airplanes are incredibly complex machines that require careful maintenance and adherence to strict codes. Newton’s law of universal gravitation teaches us that what goes up must come down, and in the case of airplanes, what goes up must also be maintained. In fact, FAA regulations, specifically Part 43, outline the necessary maintenance procedures for aircraft.

Interestingly, while the average age of automobiles in the United States is 12.1 years, the average age of general aviation aircraft is a staggering 30 years. Some airplanes are even over 40 years old. Owners of these aircraft often have different approaches to maintaining their planes. Some prefer to keep them as close to the original factory specifications as possible, while others make necessary mechanical adjustments while still striving to maintain originality. Then there are those who push the limits and customize their planes extensively, similar to a flying version of Chip Foose from television’s “Overhaulin'”. Most aircraft owners fall somewhere in between these extremes.

It’s important to seek advice and guidance from qualified experts when undertaking any modifications or upgrades to an airplane. Even experienced individuals, like A&P and ATP-certified owner-operators such as Corey Sampson, rely on the expertise of others for specialized services. This shows the value of seeking help from fellow aviation enthusiasts and leveraging the wisdom of the community.

One such example is Stephen Mercer, who recently acquired a 1982 Piper PA-32R-301T Saratoga. Mercer recognizes the need to enhance safety features and add redundancy to his aircraft, so it’s time to upgrade the panel. This is where the journey begins, as choosing the right flat panel and finding a qualified installer are critical decisions.

One reputable aviation service provider is Gardner Lowe Aviation Services (GLAS), led by Karl Gardner, who has been in the avionics maintenance business for over 30 years. GLAS specializes in avionics and has a strong relationship with Garmin as a factory authorized installation and service provider. By sticking with OEM equipment and using supplemental type certificates (STC), GLAS can simplify the installation process, which can often be complex in the world of avionics.

Gardner also mentioned some challenges facing general aviation, such as the scarcity and cost of spare parts. This scarcity has led to creative solutions, including aircraft partnerships and aero clubs, which allow individuals to share the costs and ensure planes are regularly used. These alternatives help mitigate the increasing cost of airplane ownership.

For those interested in panel upgrades, Lane Mitchell from Mitchell Aviation Services collaborates with GLAS to handle the logistics for Stephen Mercer’s Saratoga. Their installation is scheduled for early November, and FLYING magazine will be there to document the process. Whether it’s through articles or videos, FLYING aims to provide aviation enthusiasts with valuable insights and updates on aircraft upgrades and maintenance.

In conclusion, maintaining and upgrading aircraft is an ongoing process that requires careful consideration and expertise. It’s essential to seek advice from professionals, rely on the support of fellow aviation enthusiasts, and keep up with industry news to ensure airplanes operate safely and efficiently.

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