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Used Avionics

Posted by Dave Fetherston on

Over the last 10 years the technology advancements in avionics has just been mind-boggling. I do 90% of the airplane ferry work for our company. As I am flying an airplane into our shop I am amazed that the equipment I would have killed for 15 years ago, is now yesterday’s news and all coming out.

As a society we are now waiting in line for the new phone, the new computer, or latest gadget . Even the washing machine in our home is chatting with the refrigerator. If the Wi-Fi goes out on your Jet Blue flight, look out someone is going to blow.

New aircraft costs are continuing to go up and it will not be very long before a single engine piston aircraft like the Cirrus is hitting $1M. But wait, even though the majority of GA aircraft are 30+ years old, we are seeing these aircraft go through major avionics upgrades. Saving lots of cash while making them comparable to a new one. Ten years ago people were apprehensive about putting money into these older airframes for a fear that there would be no return on investment.

I always tell people that you need to look at Mission, Budget and Technology when making a decision to upgrade your airplane avionics. Now maybe I was the only one who flew a Garmin WAAS capable, ADS-B compliant Boeing Stearman, but heck why not, right?

For the new 1975 A36 owner, the sky is the limit. With the cost of a new Bonanza the decision to put $100K into the airplane could be a very good decision. The value of the aircraft is in the capabilities, matched by the fact that it has the same panel as a new Beech coming out of the factory.

So what does all of this have to do with “Used Avionics”? It is very relevant, as the amount of upgrades into the newest avionics technology has opened up a very large market of used avionics equipment. We're clearly hearing the Simon and Garfunkel's, "One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor, " or more specifically, "One airplane’s ceiling is another airplane’s floor."

There are lots of good “used” or serviceable avionics out there and for many airplanes this is a great way to jump ahead 30 years in technology without breaking the bank. Just surf the Internet, you'll see how much stuff is out there for the taking!

You do need to be careful though, as a lot of these great deals can come with surprises. Many shops will not take serviceable avionics, so make sure your installing shop is willing and able to help. If you work with your shop prior to making that great online purchase, you may find them very helpful and possibly even give you the guidance on how to make a solid purchase.

The type of equipment you purchase is also very important. Are you just getting a replacement radio for the failed one in your airplane or are you installing a new GPS? If it is the later you need to know if that the unit will be serviceable going forward or you could find yourself with a nice new doorstop.