Garmin has updated the free GTN Trainer app for the iPad. The new version reflects system software 6.62, which includes features added since version 6.5, such as vertical navigation, along track offsets and more.
Full disclosure: I was the primary author of the new GTN editions, with a lot of help from the editors and graphics staff at Pilot Workshops. I also contribute to the company’s IFR and VFR training scenarios.
The books are available both in spiral-bound print editions and as PDFs.
Garmin has released system software 6.50 (since updated to 6.51, which is a mandatory update) for its GTN 750 and GTN 650 navigators. The new software adds several features, including:
Vertical navigation (VNAV) capability when flying STARS and the initial stages of instrument approaches
Along-track offsets in flight plan segments
Destination airport remains in the flight plan when an approach is loaded (but the destination airport is removed when the approach is activated)
A shortcut to the airport info page added to all procedure headers
Load the approach NAV frequency from the approach header in the flight plan
QWERTY keyboard option
The following sections highlight some of these features. For more details on how to use the functions, see the latest editions of the GTN guides, available in my Aviation Documents folder at OneDrive and from Garmin’s product pages.
Note that these system updates must be performed by an authorized Garmin dealer or avionics shop unless you are flying a experimental-homebuilt aircraft.
The new software adds several vertical navigation features, best illustrated with examples.
Garmin has published a video that describes the VNAV feature in detail, here.
Suppose you are flying the RNAV RWY 08 approach at Lewiston, ID (KLWS), joining the procedure at the BIDDY initial approach fix northwest of the airport. The NoPT feeder route from BIDDY specifies an an altitude of at or above 5000 ft to EVOYU, followed by a descent to at or above 4000 ft to MABIZ, and then at or above 3400 ft to the FAF at GIYES.
With the new GTN system software, those segment altitudes appear in the flight plan page for the procedure.
The VNAV feature appears as a magenta vertical guidance cue next to the altitude tape on a PFD such as the new Garmin G500Txi (shown here) or the G500. Note that at this point in the approach, the LPV glidepath is a dim white diamond behind the magenta VNAV cue because the FAF is not the active waypoint and LPV is not yet annunciated on the HSI.
The VNAV cue provides advisory guidance to help you smoothly descend to each charted altitude as you fly the initial stages of the approach.
The LPV glidepath marker that displays approved vertical guidance replaces the VNAV cue when the FAF is active and the GTN system confirms that LPV minimums are available, as shown below.
Similar VNAV information and cues are available when flying a STAR, such as the MADEE FOUR arrival at Bellingham, WA (KBLI).
Note that the altitudes shown in the GTN flight plan list for this STAR are for turbojet aircraft. But you can easily edit the altitude if ATC assigns a more appropriate altitude when you’re flying a typical piston-powered light aircraft.
If you are flying an approach based on an ILS, LOC, or VOR, you can quickly retrieve the navaid frequency by touching the approach title, as shown below for the ILS RWY 16 at KBLI.
Suppose you are flying northeast along V2 at 13,000 ft. between ELN and MWH when Seattle Center clears you to cross 20 nm west of MWH at 9000 ft.
With the new software, you can easily enter an along-track offset and display advisory vertical guidance to help you meet the restriction.
Touch MWH in the flight plan, and then touch the new Along Track button.
To create a waypoint for VNAV guidance, fill in the information that corresponds to your new clearance.
An earlier version of the GTN system software included behavior that frustrated many pilots. When you loaded an approach into a flight plan, the destination airport was removed. If you hadn’t noted details such as the tower frequency, extracting that information from the GTN’s database was cumbersome.
In version 6.50, Garmin has added an APT Info button next to the approach title in the flight plan list.
Touching that button shows the familiar information window that provides touch access to details about the airport, including frequencies, weather, and other data.
You can also choose a QWERTY keyboard instead of the alphabetical layout in previous versions of the GTN software. The option is available on the System Setup page.
Until recently, RF legs were published only on so-called RNP procedures with authorization required (AR) restrictions (for more information, see AIM 5−4−18: RNP AR Instrument Approach Procedures). But FAA has started publishing some approaches with RF legs (like the example above) that are not designated as RNP AR procedures. And, with some limitations, pilots who fly aircraft equipped with GTN-series avionics should be able to fly the RF legs used as transitions/feeder routes on those approaches. (Note that so far, these approaches don’t require RF capability–conventional transitions/feeder routes and/or radar vectors are also available.)
The revised STC for the GTN series (document 190-01007-A5) notes that:
GPS/SBAS TSO-C146c Class 3 Operation
…The Garmin GNSS navigation system complies with the equipment requirements of AC 90-105 and meets the equipment performance and functional requirements to conduct RNP terminal departure and arrival procedures and RNP approach procedures including procedures with RF legs subject to the limitations herein [emphasis added].
Sections 2.12 RF Legs and 2.13.1 RNP 1.0 RF Leg Types of the STC add the following information:
2.12 RF Legs
This STC does not grant operational approval for RF leg navigation for those operators requiring operational approval. Additional FAA approval may be required for those aircraft intending to use the GTN as a means to provide RNP 1 navigation in accordance with FAA Advisory Circular AC 90-105. [Note that per AC 90-105A, domestic Part 91 operations do not require additional approval–only Part 91 subpart K operations and commercial operations need LOAs or the equivalent FAA approval.]
The following limitations apply to procedures with RF legs:
Aircraft is limited to 180 KIAS while on the RF leg
RF legs are limited to RNP 1 procedures. RNP AR and RNP <1 are not approved
Primary navigation guidance on RF legs must be shown on an EHSI indicator with auto-slew capability turned ON
GTN Moving Map, EHSI Map, or Distance to Next Waypoint information must be displayed to the pilot during the RF leg when flying without the aid of the autopilot or flight director.
The active waypoint must be displayed in the pilot’s primary field of view…
2.13.1 RNP 1.0 RF Leg Types
AC 90-105 states that procedures with RF legs must be flown using either a flight director or coupled to the autopilot.
This STC has demonstrated acceptable crew workload and Flight Technical Error for hand flown procedures with RF legs when the GTN installation complies with limitation set forth in Section 2.12 of this document. It is recommended to couple the autopilot for RF procedures, if available, but it is not required to do so. See section 4.5 of this manual to determine if this capability is supported in this installation.
At present, only a few non-AR approaches with RF legs meet the criteria in the STC and AC 90-105A. But RF legs could become more common on “standard” procedures to provide paths that offer better noise abatement, reduce airspace conflicts, and improve ATC efficiency, and pilots flying with GTN avionics (or similar navigators offered by other manufacturers) will be able to fly those procedures.