Avionics Showcase Project Installation
Advanced, ‘No-Compromise’ avionics perfectly suited to the classic ‘Art Deco’ panel
Those of us with pre-1962 Beechcraft Bonanzas have long faced a dilemma; forego the latest advances in avionics or butcher the classic, ‘Art Deco’ Bonanza panel. Years ago, when I was contemplating various kits to ‘modernize’ our N-35 panel, Rich Jones, my good friend and Oshkosh 1996 Grand Champion winner for his immaculate J35 Bonanza prevented me from making a mistake with this sage advice:
If you want a newer panel, buy a newer airplane. Don’t butcher a classic airplane panel.
Hallelujah! Classic Bonanza pilots can now fly with the most advanced avionics available.
At project inception over a year ago, our avionics selection process focused on certain well-known and heavily advertised components – many requiring significant panel and/or performance compromises. Along the way, we met some wonderful people with tremendous insight, learned a lot and ended up completely rethinking the available options. We discovered the availability of exceptional, no-compromise avionics which fit perfectly in the classic panel!
Our selection of the Aspen Evolution 2000 MAX system should come as no surprise to anyone looking for superior performance while retaining the unique beauty of the classic Bonanza panel and the improved visibility of its low glareshield. The new Aspen MAX couples a ‘big glass’ view with full redundancy, dramatically improving IFR safety in the event of pitot-static failure.
The Avidyne IFD550 is a wonderful surprise. Our initial focus was a competitor’s large-display GPS but we repeatedly heard ‘Yes, but have you seen the new Avidyne IFD 550? It’s a full Flight Management System!’ After six months, we gave Avidyne a closer look. Boy, are we glad we did! We now understand why it is marketed as a “Premium FMS/GPS Navigator”.
With such stellar performers as Aspen and Avidyne, I’m embarrassed to admit that we initially had no intention of updating our audio panel. After all, our PS-Engineering PMA-7000CD had provided many years of reliable performance. It finally occurred to me that PS-Engineering might wish to participate. Their dual Bluetooth PMA-450B is a quantum improvement!
We looked at a number of avionics shops during our year of planning for this project. Many were ‘just another’ avionics shop but we wanted more...we wanted a full-service facility capable of appreciating – and fully implementing – the advanced features of the selected equipment. Further, their installation standards had to be meticulous, with quality wire that was carefully terminated, routed, labelled and bundled - no rat’s nests allowed! Since it made sense to have a simultaneous annual with the avionics installation, a solid maintenance shop was important, too.
S3/KBFS met all of our qualifications and is factory authorized for all the equipment we selected. As an added bonus, both their Maintenance Services Manager, Jack Gainer and their Avionics Manager, Roep Hausenfluke have proven to be excellent resources.
- Annual Inspection
Bryan, the A&P assigned to our annual inspection, proved to be both friendly and conscientious – cleaning up a number of latent items that had been put off until ‘later’. In addition to the basic annual inspection, this included replacing worn engine baffle material, replacing four (yes, four) EGT probes, repair of cracks in the boarding step mounting bracket, replacement of the cowl anti-chafe tape and repair of a corroded battery box.
- Avionics Installation
Hector, our Avionics Technician has proven to be just as friendly and focused on detail. As can be imagined with an avionics installation as complex as this one, there were questions that arose during the process. On each occasion, Hector would consult with me, suggest options and consult with either Aspen or Avidyne technical support, as needed. Although delayed several weeks by the COVID-19 panic, the work was completed professionally and competently.
If you need top-quality work at a competitive price, give Jack or Roep a call at (254) 773-9902.
We’re quite pleased with the results of our installation at S3/KBFS at KTPL in Temple Texas!