Garmin says those who still rely on its early generation navigation products should start planning a panel upgrade. The company says “multiple component availability limitations” mean the parts needed to fix the devices that heralded a revolution in aviation navigation and in-flight information are fading away. “First introduced in 1998, Garmin has offered repair service for the GNS 430/530 series for 25 years,” the company said in a brief service advisory issued March 14. “Garmin plans to continue offering repair service when the components required for a specific repair remain available. Database updates and technical support will also remain available.”
But the company said that starting in 2024, it will no longer be able to fix some issues with the early devices, which include “all WAAS and Non-WAAS GNC® 420, GNS 430, GNS 530, GPS 400, and GPS 500.” The company said now is the time to think about an upgrade. “We encourage GNS 430(W)/530(W) series owners to begin considering their transition strategy to newer generation products,” the advisory said.
Planed obsolescence is my take on this. I love the 430 in the plane that I fly. It took them years to upgrade to it. Now it will have to be repeated? If and when it fails? I will be retired before that happens….
Twenty. Five. Years. That ain’t bad.
Agreed. The only components with “availability limitations” are those Garmin chooses not to address. The only electronic components I’m familiar with that are in shorter supply or can’t be bought for less money than they were 25 years ago are vacuum tubes. Garmin started this kind of thing the minute they acquired UPSAT, the only difference between that time and now is that Garmin has graduated from shaking owners down for thousands of dollars and is now shaking owners down for tens of thousands of dollars.
Have you ever tried to repair a 25 year old computer? Modern integrated digital components often can’t be built from just the raw components. The boards and chips are custom-designed, and it takes a lot of resources to build them. I’m kind of surprised Garmin has extended support for them as long as they have.
I agree Gary. I think planned obsolescence is a bit of a stretch when you consider the time frame these units have been out there. Like computers today, the way technology has progressed makes them obsolete much more quickly than before. Unlike Microsoft, I think Garmin has done a good job supporting them. For $1500 you can get them serviced and failed or failing components replaced. That’s a good deal in my book.
The same argument is being made for why the F 22 cannot now be built and/or repaired and is destined for early retirement. On the other hand has it really been 25 years since the introduction of these revolutionary products?
Fine by me. I had an Avidyne 540 in my last plane and don’t really need an excuse to go to the 440 in my current plane to replace the 430W.
The real problem is that there are only two options – Garmin or Avidyne.
I look forward to the day that one of the less expensive manufacturers like Dynon, Aspen, etc. will come out with their own GPS/COM/NAV units, so I can get rid of my year and a half old 440’s.
As much as I agree that Garmin has been less than customer friendly in their approach to service on these units, it is not at all surprising that components like processors, GPS receiver chips, displays, etc. that were state of the art 15-25 years ago are no longer available.
call me a curmudgeon but, having used both the GNS and the GTN units extensively, I find that the GNS430/530 series is the superior product in several respects. Doubly so, when taking into account how long ago it was designed.
Garmin does not manufacture the components that go into their hardware and they use components that are used in a lot of different hardware. After 25 years the chip manufacturers have moved on. I would guess that alot of the chips in the 430 are no longer manufactured by the chip makers and garmin can no longer buy them. I am actually surprised that it made it this long. I work for the USAF and we have old hardware we are trying to keep running and the price of getting the components to repair the hardware is well in excess of the original purchase prices. Nobody is going to make manufacturing runs for volume as small as the 430/530 repair. We had some plastic components we needed to replace on an aircraft and we went to a manufacturer and said we needed 200. They came back with “you mean 200,000 right?”
The answer is 3-D printing!
Realistically, think about the timeline on these products, introduced in 1990. To back up design and cert efforts those had to start in the mid/late 1980’s. Thus the chipset tech had to be selected in the late 1980’s. Now frozen in time from a cert perspective. What was commerically available then?
30386 CPU tech running at 32 MHz, which per the maintenance manual says the CPU runs at. When was the last time you tried to find 30386 computer parts from nearly 40 years ago? What chipset manufacturer keeps 40 year old chip foundry equipment?
100% on point. The long tail for NOS components eventually fades away. We have enough issues with this in the tech industry. It’s been snowballing now that places like Weird Stuff have faded away and electronics recyclers strip and smelt every board they grab. I can hardly imagine how much more difficult it would be with the rigor of the TSO supply chain.
If I were still running a GNS and was committed to it, I’d be on the phone to Bennett Avionics this morning to squirrel one away. Todd over there has helped me out a couple of times.
My upgrade strategy: sell the plane and let the next guy worry about it. Going into retirement after 38 years of ownership…don’t need the constant drain on the checkbook.
The GTN replacements are a forced transition to touchscreen. In a bouncy cockpit, I would rather have knobs and buttons. Maybe that is why some are tenaciously holding on to their GNS 430s and 530s.
I certainly didn’t want a full touch screen. The complete panel tear up that comes with the new Garmin units with the associated cost is likely also a deterrent. However there is a slide in replacement from Avidyne. The IFD 440 and 540 are direct slide in replacements for the 430 and 530.
I replaced my circa 2003 430 with an IFD 440 from Avidyne, it is a far superior unit as one would expect from newer tech. The Avidyne has knobs and a touch screen, a remote keyboard, and an app for an IPad. Updates are via a USB stick, and it interfaces with ForeFlight.
It’s not my intention to start a pissing match but there’s a world of difference between components like 386 processors that were crucial in devices that became obsolete and unwanted overnight to those used in equipment that is is perfectly viable and still serves the function for which it was designed. A company (such as Garmin) has several options if they are truly committed to preventing accusations of planned obsolescence. They can include a guarantee of availability clause when accepting bids from component manufacturers or they can stockpile an adequate supply of parts when the manufacturer announces their intent to halt production. Before anyone jumps in with “A company can’t afford to stay in business that way” I’d like to point out electronic components are dirt cheap and getting more so by the minute. There isn’t a single component in those units that Garmin couldn’t easily have absorbed the cost of several thousand and although I don’t know which components are no longer available, I’m willing to say there aren’t many of them. My point is Garmin wouldn’t have had to devote much shelf space or financial capital to have purchased enough spares to service all the units that will ever need it had they not wanted owners to replace them instead.
“ My point is Garmin wouldn’t have had to devote much shelf space or financial capital to have purchased enough spares to service all the units that will ever need”
It appears that Garmin did just that…. and ran out. Several years ago they stopped upgrading non-WAAS units to WAAS as their spares ran down. And then restricted repairs only to WAAS units as supplies dwindled further. And now it appears that stock is running dry.
I would guess one component that is hard to source is the screen itself. It’s not something you can 3D print, or build yourself. If the manufacturer doesn’t make it, you can’t get it.
Just like the displays for the KX-155/165. Nobody can make them anymore (kinda like a Saturn V…). Bendix/King does offer an alternative, replacing the original high-voltage display with LED. But that involves changing several circuit boards because of the voltage differences. This is something that needs testing and re-certification on a very low-volume product, resulting in a very high price.
How is Garmin going to handle all of the G1000, (3000, 5000)types, when those models of avionics gets older? Most planes with these systems installed would be unflyable if Garmin were to stop supporting these models, requiring complete, I’m sure expensive replacement.
Same thing I’m sure.
Yeah, like all tech, if you let them, eventually some exec will decide to play hardball and offer a cheap (to the supplier) fix at a price just low enough that you will not replace your whole system, but which lets them charge a hundred times cost or more. I’ve seen it happen so many times with software. There was a company (Computer Associates, IIRC) that went around buying up other companies that were not taking advantage, and then pulling this trick. They’d raise the maintenance and support contracts up higher than the original purchase price because they new what it would cost to rip it out and replace it with the competition. They made huge profits.
I’m guessing that will happen to all the Garmin glass out there. Watch out if they sell the company.
I would be slightly more worried about the availability of s/w updates than necessarily h/w.
Or should I say database updates.
My employer manufactures instruments and systems used mainly for scientific research. We have had to re-engineer several of our instruments because electronic components have been discontinued or are simply impossible to find. Garmin is probably having similar issues but with the added burden of possibly having to recertify the equipment after the design change. It is not hard to imagine that paying for all that would make the repairs economically unfeasible.
Just like other old avionics (King radios anyone?) independent repair shops will probably keep these units going for a long, long time by stripping parts out of used equipment.
I might be able to offer a perspective “from the inside” that would be helpful. My day job is the director of electrical engineering for a mid-size (non-aviation) international company that designs and builds electronic products that are similar in complexity to avionics. I do not have any affiliation with Garmin other than owning some of their gear, but as someone who works with similar technology I would give them kudos for 25 years of support. That is nearly unheard of for digital electronic products and very difficult to achieve at a practical level.
The Garmin statement that some components are not available rings true for me. The past couple of years have been a nightmare in the electronics industry, with shortages and obsolescence of many components. Not just “chips” as you hear about in the news, but nearly every other type of component as well. In complex electronic designs there are often critical components for which there is no substitute available at any price. If the supplier quits making that unique item you can no longer build or support the product. My company has found itself in that position recently with some products and I have no doubt that Garmin has too.
After doing contract RF designs for 3 of the major avionics companies and two of the major land mobile radio manufactures for the past 31 years I can say that the comment about planned obsolescence is untrue and the real culprit is lack of support from the semiconductor manufacturers mainly because they have changed their business models away from supplying parts for a general broad range of RF market designers to a more select 5g and now 6 G cellular market where the majority of the money is at.
An example of just one RF area that has dried up:
Several years ago Texas Instruments acquired National semiconductor and several other smaller niche RF device manufacturers and withing a year TI obsoleted the entire national semiconductor line of what was known as the LMX line of Phase locked loop synthesizers which was used in thousands of frequency synthesizers in thousands of radios manufactured by big names such as Garmin, Bendix King, Wulfsberg Electronics, Technisonics Industries, Motorola, Harris, Ma/com Communications and numerous other transceiver manufacturers not just avionics and this resulted in these manufacturers scrambling to find replacement parts that Texas Instruments obsoleted during their buyouts without giving any advanced notice to us poor sucker RF designers tasked with keeping these old 20 year plus radios running.
Unfortunately after several years of purchasing replacement parts from what suppliers had a dwindling supply of OEM devices available, just several years ago the RF design market was hit with the second big change where even second and third source OEM replacement parts are no longer available and as a result the next choice made to keep the repair market running was to either redesign the product entirely or to design in what is called a daughter board where an entire no longer obtainable simple low density Integrated circuit is replaced with a circuit board made up of discrete components but this only applies to low density small no longer obtainable Integrated circuits and such.
Now we have hit the point in time where even if it were possible to re-engineering these daughter boards it is now no longer possible because even these discrete components used to make a daughter boards now no longer are being produced by the semiconductor house, IE even the replacement, replacement parts are no longer available.
Put the blame squarely on changing markets and where the big money is at people and this puts the blame squarely on 5g and soon to be 6G cell companies and satellite cellular industries because the discrete semiconductor parts manufacturers discovered that producing parts for small run niche markets such as avionics, ham radio equipment, public safety and fire radio manufacturers is no longer viable and the big money is now in 5G, 6G and soon to be satellite cellular markets.
The only recourse these days for us non cellular radio designers is to now move to an entirely new redesign methodology where we are now faced with using parts that are intended and marketed to the cellular equipment designers and as a result I myself am now stuck with not just designing new radios but also with having do the job that was once done by these same semiconductors manufacturers extracting data that was once readily provided for a wide RF market but is now only done for the cellular guys
As a result, even basic Rf design of non cellular products is of course not an easy Rf design task anymore and certainly it is no longer possible to keep these 15 year old or longer radio repairs running if their are no parts being produced by these merging semiconductor manufacturers.
Fortunately for me after 31 years I’m leaving the Rf design field in a year or two and I will no longer need to worry about second and third hand running in circles just trying to source parts that are not being produced anymore and have not been produced for 15 years or more but I really do feel sorry for the new engineer who replaces me and is tasked with spending 75% of her or his design career trying to source no longer produced components just to keep a piece of equipment alive for another 20 or 25 years.
Thank you for the education. You answered All the questions I had on this issue.
To think that the 430 and 530 are going the way of the Superhomer and Omingator (does anyone even remember them today?) makes me feel even older.
When whistle stop tuning came along, it couldn’t get any better….I thought.
Long Live the KX-170B and KX-175B!
I’ll second the observation that I’d rather deal with knobs and buttons over touch screens when the Mooney is bouncing around in light to moderate turbulence–although some of the pushbuttons in my GMA340 are starting to get a little flaky after 15 years in service.
I bought my GNS-530W new in 2011 and the screen went dead just 3 months outside of warranty. My avionics shop begged, but they wouldn’t budge, so I paid the $1,500 (i.e., about 10% of the price new) to repair it. Needless to say, that’s not great customer service to have a major component fail after just over 3 years from new and then refuse to cover it under warranty. Signed an unhappy customer.
I had a 430W in one plane and replaced it with a Avidyne 550. Now I’ll replace the 430W in my other with a slide in Avidyne 440. Garmin should have thought this through before forcing its customers to Avidyne, not a good marketing strategy.
Gonna guess they figured that you’d never buy another $15K Garmin box anyway. Manufacturers do research that stuff; they know that a certain group will never be future customers.
Can you cut a good deal on one of those 430Ws for a fellow Avweber, Frank? Now that they are their way to the history books? 😊
Will let you know when I replace the 430W
I think the big issue with this is the high price required to move to a newer unit. In most situation new units will come at a lower cost, as the case was with computers. The first computer I bought was a much higher cost than the last one. I hate to think that I will spend more upgrading a navigator than I could buy an automobile for.
I’ve never been a big fan of Garmin. They make good products, but I don’t like their marketing strategies and their “we don’t play well with others” attitude in building their products. Having said that, I agree that halting support for products built over 25 years ago makes sense. The evolution of integrated circuits and even the circuit boards themselves makes makes it nearly impossible to duplicate old parts once the manufacturers have moved on and junked the old assembly lines. The display screens seem to be a particular issue. Garmin dropped support for the GNS 480s and the original MX20s some time ago, mainly due to the display screens. Matt W. makes a good point about the G1000 and higher end displays that will likely follow a similar fate eventually. Some readers wax nostalgic about the old King KX*** radios, and yes, they were good, but that overlooks the much greater capabilities of more modern navigators. That higher level of capabilities comes at a price. After all, how many of us still use the same cell phones and small-screen TVs from the early ’90s. The difference is that those high volume, low cost, consumer items are not as painful on the wallet as our aircraft avionics.
GNS430W best boxes. 100, 000 units worldwide.