by Paul Sanchez
Out of the box, the Garmin 430 is a powerful navigational tool that has proven itself by becoming one of the most popular pieces of avionics ever produced. However, with its power also comes complexity, and learning how to operate the thing remains a primary stumbling block for pilots who want to get the most out of it.
Recognizing that advancing avionics may be putting pilots on the bad side of the learning curve, Aviation Safety this month embarks on a mission to unravel the mysteries of popular avionics units. We will attempt to arm you with some techniques for using the technology to its greatest advantage. We wont be regurgitating the operations manual here, but we will offer some hints and shortcuts that may not be immediately obvious. Many of these functions can be practiced on the Garmin 430 simulator, available for download from the Garmin web site.
To start with, the factory settings that come with a new 430 are not really the best presentation of the information a pilot needs to see on a second-by-second basis. In just a few minutes, you can set up the data fields in what we think is a more logical fashion. Spending a few minutes setting up the data fields on the unit will pay dividends in reducing pilot workload and improving situational awareness dramatically.
If you plan to fly a 430, it makes sense to gain familiarity with the switchology, particularly if you have no experience with the chapter and page strategy involved with using the two concentric knobs to move among the various displays. Simply put, the big knob on the right side moves the display among chapters, which appear in the following order: navigation, waypoint, auxiliary and nearest. The small knob moves among pages within each chapter. In the chapter for navigation, there are six pages.
In the discussion that follows, the big knob will remain set on the navigation chapter, although it may sometimes be used for data entry. It does not switch chapters if a sub menu or the cursor is turned on, but has other functions as well. To turn on the cursor, push in the small knob. To turn it off, push in the small knob again.
When the cursor is on, hitting the ENTER button will allow you to change the field or access information about that field. It sounds confusing at first, but after a short time using this logic it becomes fairly intuitive.
There are several primary goals when setting up a 430. The flow of information could be made more logical than the default settings selected by the factory. Obviously there is some personal preference here, but there are some sound reasons to change the fields around a bit.
Organizing the information to make it more sensible pays off in two ways. First, it increases situational awareness. Second, it helps unlock the potential of a navigation unit that all too often is employed by pilots who simply punch in direct to a waypoint and follow the moving map.
Changing the data fields is accomplished by hitting the MENU button. One of the options that appears is CHANGE FIELDS? Using the small knob, scroll until that is highlighted and then hit ENT. The options screen disappears and the first field will be highlighted and blinking. Turn the inner knob and your choices appear. Turn the inner knob again to select the desired field, then press ENT. The field will change and the cursor will highlight the next field. If that field is what you want, simply scroll to the next field using the large knob or turn off the cursor by pushing the small knob.
NAV page 1
On NAV page 1, we would suggest that the data fields be changed to look like this:
We selected this order because it does, subjectively of course, the best job of presenting a logical flow of information. Distance and ground speed are together. Bearing and track can be instantly compared. (If track equals bearing the aircraft will get to your waypoint). Desired track (the intended course line you want to follow) and the vertical speed required for your preprogrammed vertical navigation complete the picture.
This is very similar to the factory setting, which features estimated time en route to the selected waypoint in place of the vertical speed required field. This is a subjective call, but we consider the vertical speed to be a more important point than the ETE. If you really want ETE, such as for fuel management purposes, put it in place of DTK, since that information can be gleaned from the CDI.
NAV page 2
This page is the moving map page, and many pilots spend the majority of their time using this display. Data fields are in a column on the right side of the display, with the map in the middle. Again, the factory settings arent ideal. Suggested fields are:
Making these changes allows you to look at the screen and get all of the motion and orientation information in a one-second glance.
Does the track (TRK) equal the bearing (BRG)? If not, change it now, before a lateral error shows up on the map or CDI. How does the groundspeed (GS) compare to the distance (DIS) remaining? Does the vertical speed required to make your waypoint (indicated on page 1) make sense?
In configuring the map, there are some changes you ought to make. First, select TRACK UP. It is nearly always more convenient to look at the top of the map and see if you need to change your course to the left or right. If the magenta course line (active leg) is straight up and down that means your track is equal to desired track. In fact with the auto-zoom on and a scale of 1 nm, youll do better left/right with the map than with the mechanical CDI needle.
Auto-zoom should be ON. The concept here is that, as you get closer to the upcoming waypoint, the map will scale down to 0.5 nm before switching to the scale of the next waypoint. When doing approaches or tight turns, youll find it amazing how close you can get to the waypoint.
Turn the land features ON. I guess a real pilot does not need to see the land features on his color moving map, but leaving the land features OFF takes some cards off the table. For example, if you are shooting an approach with low visibility, you might want to know that the bright lights below you are an interstate highway and not a runway.
NAV page 3
NAV page 3 provides departure point information, such as radio frequencies for the selected waypoint. From this page you can directly load frequencies from the nagivation side to the communications side. There are no customizable fields on this page.
NAV page 4
NAV page 4 is the position page. The default is the latitude/longitude of current position, track, ground speed and calculated altitude. At the bottom the default is how far you are from the nearest airport.
It may make sense to press the MENU button and change nearest airport to VOR. That way on NAV page 4 you will always have the nearest VOR displayed. Knowing your position relative to the nearest VOR will help when giving a position report to air traffic control or Flight Watch.
Dont worry about not identifying the nearest airport on this page. That information is available in an emergency on NRST page 1, which is accessible by spinning the big knob all the way clockwise.
NAV page 5
NAV page 5 is the satellite indication page. There are no page options the user can select.
NAV page 6
Vertical navigation allows the box to help you plan descents by comparing your current altitude with the elevation of your destination. However, where and how you set that destination can influence what kind of arrival you make.
The default is to arrive at a point four miles from and 1000 feet above the destination. That might give you a good approach if youre flying straight in, but its not terribly efficient for a typical visual pattern.
Setting the reference point to a point 318 feet above the waypoint and one mile out gives you an approximately 3-degree glidepath down short final, depending on where the runway threshold is in relation to the airports datapoint in the GPS database. You can also set what vertical speed you would like to use – slow descent for passenger comfort or fast descent to stay above weather or obstructions.
The Garmin 430 has a wide range of navigational capabilities, and this discussion of the data field setups merely scratches the surface of the variety of tricks the box can be trained to perform.
Many of them are not intuitive, such as joining a radial as when you get radar vectors as part of a departure procedure. It can be done without switching back and forth between the VOR and GPS nav modes.
You can set up the box to fly a localizer-type approach to a runway without a published instrument procedure. While this should not encourage you to roll your own approaches, it can come in handy during circling approaches or even visual approaches.
You can also complement the power of one box by interfacing it with another, or with a moving map. All of these capabilities hinge on a fundamental understanding of how to set up your demands quickly and efficiently. The nuances will come soon enough.
-Paul Sanchez is a CFII who specializes in instruction using advanced avionics.