Garmin GPSMAP 295

At $1495, there is really no excuse for an airplane not to have state-of-the-art GPS navigation with a big color screen. The display is the same size as the $10,000 Garmin GPS 430, but it's even better. I had a chance to compare it to the 430 in my friends Piper Navajo and we both found a lot to like about the 295. First, the screen is more readable somehow. The color schemes and symbology are less terse and seem updated relative to the 430. Second, you get to see more terrain. Because the 295 doesn't need to show any Navcom info like the 430 (which has the navcom functions integrated), more of the screen can be dedicated to map or other displays.

If you are familiar with the 430, the 295 will be familiar and easy to pick up, and vice versa. If not, it's very easy to learn. Garmin makes a big deal about how its avionics are designed by pilots. I have a hard time believing King and the others don't have a lot of pilots kicking around too, but somehow Garmin makes the more intuitive instruments. If you don't believe me, go to their site, download a simulator, and try them out. These guys have been taking over panel space like Patton's tanks rolled through Germany. They are the innovators.

There are literally tons of features in one of these little boxes, so let's take a little tour.

Here is the satellite status page, one of the first pages you'll see when booting up the unit. The map shows you where the satellites are in the sky, the bars tell you how many are locked in, and the numeric displays tell you what your positional error will be, time, and battery power remaining. The unit is very thirsty for batteries. Keep the screen brightness down, load fresh batteries for every flight, and use the 12V lighter cable where possible. It takes this guy as much as 2 minutes to lock onto every available satellite depending on how many are blocked. Give it as unobstructed a view of the sky as possible and it will lock in more quickly. The unit comes with a remote antenna that you can shove to the front of the cockpit window to help out with this, but I have found it to be more trouble than it's worth. The built-in antenna works fine and I'm never in a hurry to bolt into the air anyway. I usually clamp mine to the window with a big suction cup, but would velcro it atop the glareshield if I wasn't flying a rental.


All material 2001-2006, Robert W. Warfield.