December 10, 2005

Reading Glass

Well, reading the G1000 manuals wasn't as bad as I'd thought -- what's a few hundred badly-written tech pages to someone who's motivated? -- but, as usual, the proof's in the pudding. I haven't flown for weeks (weather, and a new project at work, mostly), and I sometimes wonder whether I'll even remember how to take off, let alone what this readout or that instrument is telling me in IMC.... I've been in touch with John a couple of times about getting checked out (or even just flying along with him as safety pilot), but there's always some excuse on my part. So it goes. It'll probably be January; the good news (on the grapevine) is that Cal Airways is getting more glass cockpit 172's. Cool!

Anyway, as an old hardware and software engineering nerd, I'm impressed and intrigued by the G1000 system architecture and implementation. For example, it warms my heart that it uses ethernet to join the components together -- the sort of thing I predicted decades ago when ethernet was still done with temperamental inflexible thick co-ax cable and vampire taps (don't ask...), and when 1Mbps was pretty optimistic. I just love this sort of thing -- and the second-guessing and mental reverse engineering I do when reading about hardware and systems architecture like this keeps me occupied when I should be doing real work.

Something I don't love is the likely difficulties I'll have with the vertical tape displays for airspeed and altitude. Almost everything else looks straightforward about the G1000 -- the GPS seems to be a glorified GPS 530, and the rest of it is "obvious", at least while sitting here on the ground -- but, as both John and David Megginson have pointed out (see e.g. David's article here), the transition to this style of presentation can be rough.

As my over-used catchphrase has it, we shall see.

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