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Time to transition to glass?
Answered By AOPA
How much time should one budget for a competent pilot to transition from a 6-pack to Full glass panel VFR? IFR? Is this different if you just upgrade a few of the instruments in the six pack(Aspin/D5 etc)?
3 Replies
AOPA Staff Answer
Hi David,

This is a question in which the answers are going to vary greatly. Obviously if you're just changing/upgrading one instrument, the learning curve isn't as steep, and the time spent is going to be much less. We're also going to have to assume that the aircraft is the same make and model as well, and your aren't learning a completely new aircraft.

The biggest factor that is going affect the time it takes to transition, in my opinion, is how much time you spend on the ground learning. The cockpit is by far the worst place to learn new avionics, but a simulator or an aircraft hooked up to a GPU sitting on the ramp can help you learn much faster (and cheaper). Taking the avionics resource/pilot's guide home and actually reading it will help immensely as well.

When I transitioned to G1000 aircraft from round dial, it was just after completing my instructor ratings and standardization for the school I was working for. We spent 5+ hours using desktop simulators, then another 5 or 6 hours in simulators, then another 3 flights in the aircraft. This was so that we could not only fly the equipment, but instruct in it as well.

If you are a VFR pilot, your time commitment will be much less because you won't be using all the bells and whistles the avionics have to offer. A couple of hours at home studying and one or two flights in the aircraft and you should be fine.

The time needed to transition for someone who's going to fly IFR is going to depend on how current and comfortable they are in the IFR enviroment. From there it's just getting the avionics to do what they want. Again, spending several hours at home studying and on the ground practicing will reduce the hours needed in the plane. A competent, current IFR pilot should be able to learn a new avionics suite after a couple of flights (provided they don't depend totally on those flights and the instructor to learn it).

This is just my opinion, it's an informed one, but still just an opinion. I hope others will share their opinions as well.
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Start by asking your insurer.  Many insurance companies writing policies for club/school operations have a minimum amount of training they want for pilots new to glass panels.  That will give you a floor number.  Beyond that, see what the club's experience is doing checkouts with folks with no glass experience as to whether you think it's necessary to have a minimum, or whether a "train to proficiency" standard is sufficient or whether you need a set minimum.  Either way, everyone needs to know and accept that a set minimum is merely that, and some folks folks may need more to reach an adequate level of proficiency.  You'll probably need to establish some performance standards in the style of the ACS so everyone has a clear idea of what is required to demonstrate that adequate level of proficiency.

That said, having trained many pilots on glass, I can say with certainty that the number of hours needed to reach proficiency will vary widely depending on the pilot's background, experience, and aptitude, as well as whether they're looking for VFR proficiency or IFR proficiency.  And as Hoss said, the availability of part-task trainers and/or real flight simulation devices (like an appropriate ATD) makes the training a lot easier and less expensive with fewer flight hours required.
To make the picture a bit clearer; it is a club owned 182 and the club is considering installing a Dynon glass panel. (once the A/p is approved.) So the aircraft is the same. I'm wondering if we should have a minimum checkout time if it happens. Most members fly at most "gentleman's IFR" And yea, I expect to see a whole range of answers here.