the g1000 pc trainer
THE G1000 PC
It’s an excellent systems trainer that will save you
a lot of time and money when you step into the airplane. Here on some hints on its operation.
by Fred Simonds
am one of the many who came of
aviation age in the era of round dials.
Without getting into ugly numbers,
that goes back to Mode A transponders, 90-channel tube radios and check
rides that cost $60 – checks accepted.
My first exposure to the G1000 was
in 2008, when I was hired at a flight
school that happened to have many soequipped Cessnas. It was time to learn
the thing.
First came a DVD course. It proved
a good way to break the ice, tone
down the intimidation factor and let
me learn at my own pace. But I itched
to do more than canned exercises,
and soon I discovered the G1000 PC
The Garmin trainer helps someone
learn the G1000 for VFR and IFR
It’s Not a Simulator
It’s carefully not called a simulator
because it’s not an airplane simulator.
For example, when you make a climb
with the PC Trainer, the airspeed does
not budge.
Flight simulation is not its reason
for existence.
The idea is to learn the G1000
itself. The PC Trainer presents the
G1000 knobs, buttons and displays
just as if you were using the real thing,
a near-perfect replication of a G1000.
What you learn in the PC Trainer for
almost no money carries directly into
the airplane, but you cannot log any
time you spend with it.
Look Outside in the Real World
There is no visual display of clouds,
runways or terrain. This does, in my
observation, lead to the unfortunate
tendency to stare at the display once
you get airborne in the airplane just as
you did in the trainer.
The cure is the six-second rule:
never look inside at anything for more
than six seconds. We all need to grow
egg timers in our heads.
You can hook up a 4-axis joystick
with throttle/power and rudder control in seconds using the Joystick Axis
Configuration tool under the Options
menu. You can also fly it with the
autopilot, called Demo Mode, which
is what I usually do. The display
itself is incredibly beautiful (at least to
me!) and looks fabulous on a monitor.
And yes, it supports sound: “Traffic!
Today there are about 7,000 G1000
systems deployed throughout the GA
fleet, installed in everything from the
Quest Kodiak to the Cessna Mustang
jet. Garmin offers 14 versions of the
trainer for essentially all the airframes
in which it is installed as original
equipment. G600 users can also obtain
a trainer, but for them it’s a three-part
download freebie.
You might think that this software
is insanely expensive, but it’s not. All
the single-user versions are $24.95.
You can find it at larger pilot shops
or online at
There is nothing technical to prevent you from buying one and installing it on as many computers as you
like. Given that and the low cost, it
seems clear that Garmin is promoting
the trainer as a learning tool in order to
promote its big-ticket flight deck.
Get the Latest Version
You will want to buy the latest version,
which is 9-dot-something. The earlier version 8 is still available, but you
might as well have the latest.
These days most PCs go far beyond
the required basic 1.8 GHz processor
and 256 MB of RAM and a DVDROM drive.
However, the trainer is processorintensive and you want as much horsepower as you can get, especially video
The primary symptom of insufficient computing power is intermittent
red Xs in the display which almost
always cause the AP to disconnect.
Then you scramble to re-engage the
The Garmin G1000 PC Trainer in
dual screen mode. There is no better
way to replicate the G1000’s full functionality outside of the aircraft.
IFR Refresher May 2010
autopilot as the airplane heads whoknows-where.
Worse, it breaks your concentration and the flow of learning stops for
a moment.
On-board graphics cards with Intel
graphic chipsets and shared memory will not work with the G1000.
Nowhere does Garmin say this, but
DirectX will not load causing the
trainer to fail.
Windows Versus Apple
It works fine on Windows 2000, XP
and Windows 7, but not very well on
Apple machines where PC emulation
really slows things down.
The only glitch I have found is that
the screen capture feature does not
seem to work in Windows 7. It will
run happily on a desktop or laptop
The most impressive aspect of the
trainer is its dual-screen mode. Imagine
having the Primary Flight Display
on your left and the Multifunction
Display on your right.
They work together just as in the
airplane. There is no closer emulation
of the three-way interaction between
you, the PFD and MFD to be had at
this price.
Starting Dual Screen Mode
You can start dual screen mode from
the Start Menu > Programs > Garmin
Trainer > Start Dual Screen Trainer.
I dragged that to the desktop to
create an icon which I find easier
than drilling down through the Start
When you click it, both screens
come up on one monitor unless you
have set your computer for dual monitor.
In dual monitor, you may have to
grab the MFD display and move it
to the right-hand monitor. Using the
trainer for the first time, skim through
the brief Help just to see what you’ve
Before you power up the PFD,
check the Options menu to select
IFR Refresher May 2010
bringing up the PFD or MFD. Move
right to Airframe to select the specific
airframe you want to work with.
At least in Cessna single-engine
aircraft, you select which airframes
to install when you install the trainer, along with whether you want the
Flight Chart database or not.
Select the Airframe
Check whichever airframe you want as
you cannot change it once you power
up the system. It does not matter
whether you click on the power button
or use the drop-down menu.
You can pause the trainer by rightclicking anywhere in the PFD screen,
at which point the airplane appears to
stop in mid-air, something I’ve always
Being able to pause is
absolutely great for giving yourself time to think
about what comes next.
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had a hard time doing in an aircraft.
Being able to pause is absolutely
great for giving yourself time to think
about what you are going to do next,
catch up and ultimately get ahead of
the airplane or for simply taking a
That feature in itself is one of the
most important reasons why it’s worth
your time to learn the system on the
PC Trainer rather than in the aircraft
where things can rapidly go seriously
wrong if you do fall behind.
When you leave for real, close the
trainer by clicking on the power button, using the exit drop-down or clicking on the red X in the corner.
Not closing the trainer gracefully
can lead to problems with it and/or
your computer when you start it up at
a later time.
The one thing that nearly drove me
insane was finding the sweet spots that
cause the knobs to turn right and left.
Fortunately there are keyboard short-
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cuts you can use if you lose patience.
I preferred to force myself to do it
the hard way since that’s how the real
unit operates.
My other gripe is that the approach
database is anything but current even
in the latest versions and there is no
way to update it.
Learn the G1000 by learning only
what you must know to fly it safely.
For IFR pilots this includes knowing
how to load, activate and edit a flight
plan; find airport and navaid information; suspend automatic sequencing of
the flight plan; set up and fly a hold;
load and activate an approach; change
the choice of IAF and initiate a missed
approach. Leave the exotic stuff for
another day.
Use the trainer to build good
habits from the start. See the cheat
sheet below (photocopy it and keep it
handy). Focus on the pages most often
used, and you will be well on your way
to mastering the G1000.
In the words of Marie Curie,
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is
only to be understood. Now is the time
to understand more, so that we may
fear less.” The G1000 PC Trainer is an
excellent way to go about understanding more.
Fred Simonds is a Gold Seal CFII and
factory-certified G1000 instructor. See
his web page at
Check the tuning box before using COM or NAV controls (e.g. frequency, volume, transfer).
Data entry requires a flashing cursor to begin.
Press the FMS knob to turn the cursor ON if it is OFF and OFF if it is ON.
The LARGE FMS knob changes the cursor location.
The SMALL FMS knob changes the information (e.g. letters or numbers) displayed at the cursor location.
If you make a mistake in data entry you can usually back up one step at a time by pressing the FMS knob.
To navigate through the pages on the MFD, use the LARGE FMS knob to change Page Groups.
The SMALL FMS knob changes Pages within the current Page Group.
Select the Flight Plan Page Group by pressing the FPL key.
Always look for Softkeys first. If there is no Softkey, then use the Menu key.
For GFC 700 AFCS (autopilot/flight director) operation, check the Status Box first, activate the appropriate command(s), then RECHECK the Status Box to verify the active and armed modes.
Use the PROC (Procedures) key to load and activate Instrument Approach Procedures in the active flight plan.
MAP Page 1
MAP Page 4
Weather Datalink
WPT Page 1
Airport Information
FPL Page 2
Active Flight Plan
AUX Page 1
Trip Planning
Aux Page 3
GPS Status
Aux Page 4
System Setup
IFR Refresher May 2010
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