10 Replies
Ronald Levy
945 Posts
No idea, because Garmin's own flyGarmin database service doesn't cover the GX-series, leaving you at Jeppesen's mercy.
Are they shutting off delivery in June 2019 or are they not selling renewals after June 2019? Their last renewal notice to me was October 15th, 2018 and that was for a 12-month subscription.
My understanding is that the data updates for the GX series from Jeppesen stop next June. I was notified when I went to update my database with the Jepp app on Windows. Jepp says they will refund any unused service at that time, meaning if you need data you still buy a full year, but the data will stop in June and you'll get a refund.

I was very happy with my GX-50 in my Cherokee 140, which allowed me to fly any IFR that I wanted to attempt in that airplane. Now it looks like I'm going to have to spend half the value of the airplane to upgrade to a new GPS, as will many others. I think this is frankly outrageous. The Garmin site says they can 'no longer maintain the equipment needed to create the database'. It's a computer; how hard can it be? (I believe that Garmin actually does the data update that is sold through Jeppesen.)

Stepping on my soapbox:  This is free, publicly-available data from the FAA that is packaged for use in GPS units. Even not considering the nearly $500 per year they charged for it, it should continue to be available to those who actually paid for its generation, the taxpayers of this country. What I'm getting at is this: Why must we depend on a big company like Garmin or Jeppesen to keep us flying when a smaller company could do the job just as well, in fact better - because they could keep the data coming. The big companies call the data 'proprietary' and won't let anyone else create the updates. But if we, the taxpayers, have already paid for the data then why can't we use it?

I believe AOPA should take this issue on as a benefit for their members (us). Garmin should be required by regulation to allow other companies to supply data to users of Garmin's equipment especially when Garmin won't supply it. Of course it would be even better if they were required to allow other smaller companies to produce the data anyway, at a much lower cost. Or, the FAA itself should be allowed/required to produce the data for use in GPSs at no (further) charge to the taxpayers.
Max Reason
22 Posts
As a computer and software guy, let me ask a simple question.  If the data is provided free by the FAA, why can't someone like me get the data, reformat into whatever form is required for Garmin and Dynon [and other avionics suppliers], and sell for $100... or even $20... or even free ???  Does Garmin and Dynon put tricks (like encryption or otherwise) in their avionics software to only download from sources they approve?

What's the deal.  Because if there is nothing stopping me from providing this information, I probably will.

I hate "rent seeker" type ripoff schemes.

Anyone know?
I'm a computer and software guy, too, having worked for both avionics companies and a (very) popular EFB company, and done a lot of work with such databases, including preparing them for distribution. I think the problem is going to be the 'whatever form is required' by the avionics. They're not going to tell you this. Plus, there is verification of the data when the card is installed in the avionics box that likely includes a key that only the manufacturer knows. I think the only way what you (and I) describe can happen is by regulation, or the force of law. This isn't going to be easy; only someone like AOPA would have a chance at getting something like this to pass. Of course, we never thought Basic Med would happen, either, so sometimes good things happen if the right people get involved.
Ronald Levy
945 Posts
Just guessing here, but it may be that this service is no longer profitable for Jepp due to the dwindling number of GX-series GPS's in service.  I can't remember the last time I saw one in a client's airplane, and I used to see them several times a year.  If so, the GX users might be able to work a deal with Jepp to continue the service at a higher price, but they might also find this price would be more in the long run (or even the medium run) than upgrading to a more modern GPS.
Ronald Levy
945 Posts

Max Reason:

Yeah, and none of us would be surprised if Jepp and Garmin had some kind of [indirect] financial arrangement that makes it profitable for Jepp to stop the service,
That statement is false, because it would definitely surprise me.  As I said, my guess is that it has become unprofitable for Jepp to provide this service at a price the dwindling number of customers are willing to pay, and it's hard justify demanding that a company lose money to give you what you want.

As for the process of updating my Garmin 530W, I pull the datacard out of the unit, go to the fly.garmin website on my laptop, open the FlyGarmin app, plug the data card into the adapter and the adapter into the USB port, and then hit the "update" button.  When the update of the card is complete, I put the datacard back in the unit, and I'm good for another 28 days
I believe you'll see the GX series equipment in aircraft with lower hull values, and I believe you won't see many of them used to fly to lowest possible minimums. When the cost of replacement of avionics approaches 30% of the hull value, most owners find other options like we did when GPS first became viable. I know you don't see them a lot any more, but ADF/NDB/LORAN equipment used to be quite common. Many owners retained that equipment until well after the GX series hit the used market and became more widely affordable. I think we'll see the same thing happen with the GXs. Right now, the 400 series Garmins are still somewhat expensive when you consider they usually require work on the complete stack simply because of the physical size differences. I think we'll see a combination of tablet (with current DBs) / GX equipment (with expired DBs) used for a lot of VFR and IFR navigation for several more years.

There are a significant number of GXs in use outside the United States soI suspect that Jepp is simply at the mercy of Garmin in this situation. Jepp isn't in the business of just churning dollars, so I suspect they were making a profit from the service or they wouldn't be doing it.

Garmin would have to release the proprietary information and grant permission for anyone to take over support of the GX series, and there is no monetary incentive for them to do so. Even if that were to happen, in today's litigious world the cost of liability insurance for a provider would be a driving factor in the cost of providing the support. It would be a real benefit to the existing user community if a different, litigation proof provider could take over the support now wouldn't it?

It is time to find a wider market for the GNS430/530 series to drive continuing sales of the current versions. It makes sense for Garmin to quit supporting the GX series...but right at the time when a lot of owners are being forced to spend money on ADS-B solutions is certainly inconvenient and won't garner them a lot of new fans.

I am willing to write code for free to convert data from the format that FAA provides to the format GX series GPS can read if I can get specifications and approval from Garmin (or whoever holds related rights). I assume it will leave GPS for VFR use only (or for simulated IFR) but still better than keeping outdated database.

I don't know about legal process but data conversion cannot be difficult.
This looks like it is right in the wheelhouse for @SeattleAvionics to pick up and run with. They already provide Bendix/King, Aspen, Dynon, and many others. http://seattleavionics.com/products.aspx If Garmin doesn't stand in the way.