AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 83

P&E 

AVIONICS

Frugal or foolish
Pitfalls of buying used avionics
B Y I A N J. T W O M B LY

HOW MUCH WOULD YOU PAY TO SAVE

some money?
Take the world of used avionics.
Search eBay or one of the aviation online
marketplaces and you'll find everything
from relatively new Garmin GTN 750s
to old Narco radios, and everything in
between. The prices are there, begging
you to save big on the purchase of a newto-you piece of equipment. Sometimes it's
worth pressing the Buy Now button, and
sometimes it's a fool's errand. Knowing
when to buy and when to pass is key to
shopping the used avionics market.
" Is it a deal? It depends, " said Michael
Beaver, owner of Beaver Avionics in Red
Bluff, California. The intricacies of buying used gear are more complex than they
are with a typical online auction purchase.
You may have a dream about what you
want in your panel, but money isn't the
only thing potentially standing in your
way. " It depends on the current stack and
the airframe. They have different abilities
to support new equipment, " Beaver said.
AOPA publications contributor Pete
Bedell and his brothers own a Cessna 172
and a Beechcraft Baron. Over the years the
brothers have earned black belts in sourcing used equipment for their airplanes,
and they have graduated from original
equipment to Garmin GNS 430Ws in
both. " I don't really care about the display, " Bedell said. " It's all about meeting
the need to get LPV minimums. "
The brothers use an iPad for a multifunction display. Both 430s were
purchased used. The first was from a
trusted friend, so they knew the use history and that they could count on its
reliability. For the second they took a
chance on an online buy. But they purchased a standard 430 and sent it to
Garmin for the WAAS upgrade, ensuring

they would be left with a refurbished
unit brought up to modern (at the time)
standards.
The Bedells like to save money, but
the real motivation for buying used is
getting an upgrade after widespread use
has flushed out bugs. " I'm hoping by the
time we're ready they've got the kinks
ironed out, " he said.
Beaver said most used units his company is asked to install are 430Ws and
530Ws. Even with these units that are only
a generation old, when asked to work one
into a panel upgrade, his answer varies. " If it
doesn't come with FAA forms, we'll usually
say no because it's not worth it. " Although
shops can accept equipment without yellow tags, many shy away, knowing that as
soon as the shop takes possession of the
equipment, it accepts responsibility for its
proper operation. A yellow tag gives some
amount of reassurance that the unit works,
but even so, most shops will do their own
tests. " It does no one any good to assume
the paperwork that comes with it is 100
percent, " Beaver said.
Then it comes down to what the customer is trying to accomplish. For Beaver,
a perfect scenario for something like a
used 430 is as a second GPS/nav/com.
The fact the manufacturer is no longer
offering upgrades doesn't matter as much
and it provides complete redundancy.
Something akin to a simple altimeter
swap to the same type is worth a shot on
the used market as well, he said. With
only a few bolts and connectors, there's
some reassurance it will all work out.
Beaver's hesitation comes from the
many variables that go into an avionics
installation. Especially with late-model
equipment, there are dozens of parameters that must be met for the unit to go in
your airplane. The power supply, wiring,
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Intro
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 2
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover4
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