Norcal: Mooney 123, use caution, several aircraft have reported numerous hang gliders in the vicinity of Mission Peak.
Mooney: Ah, what altitude are those hang gliders?
Norcal: Mooney 123, they don't show up on my radar, I have no idea.
Mooney: Ah, where is Mission Peak?
Norcal: Mooney 123 your current location is Mission Peak.
Several improvements have been made to the G1000 and to the G1000 simulator software. At this writing, the most recent Cessna airframe G1000 simulator is version 8.01 and it contains some very useful features. One is the new dual mode operation that allows you to display both the Primary Flight Display (PFD) and Multi-Function Display (MFD) simultaneously on your computer screen. You can also resize the screens, just in case you don't have a dual monitor setup. It seemed like just a matter of time for this to be offered.
Since the real G1000 has two computers (PFD and MFD) connected by ethernet, it was natural to assume that two simulator processes could be launched on one computer and interconnected using a local socket. This appears to be what Garmin did, but be advised that the computer horsepower to run this setup is not trivial. Choosing the TAWS option before starting up the simulator basically brought my machine to its knees: Red Xs appeared and disappeared on the PFD indicators and a voice would say "TAWS not available," then a few seconds later "TAWS available," then a few seconds later "TAWS not available" ... over and over. I'd recommend against selecting TAWS unless you have a seriously fast computer with a good deal of memory.
While shortcuts for the standard simulator are automatically created, you have to dig a bit to locate the BAT file that allows you to launch the dual-mode version.
The new version of the G1000 simulator allows you to experiment with the Garmin autopilot/flight director that Cessna chose to not make available on the lowly C172. It also lets you try out the new Victor airway-based flight planning. I'll provide an overview of this feature using the flight planning interface provided on the MFD. A similar, but simplified flight plan interface is provided on the PFD.
Assume you receive the following clearance:
Cessna 12345 is cleared to Reno, on departure, fly heading 310, radar vectors to V6, Squaw Valley, direct. Climb and maintain 5000 ..."
Start by entering the OAK VORTAC after the departure airport. This is important because you can't load an airway unless the preceding waypoint is either a VOR or an intersection on an airway. Then position the cursor on the empty line following the OAK VORTAC and press the Menu key.
A menu appears and you'll need to scroll (I recommend always scrolling with the big FMS knob by default) to the Load Airway menu item and press the Enter key.
Another menu will appear listing all the Victor airways and Jet routes associated with the OAK VORTAC. Select V6 and press Enter.
Yet another menu appears listing all the terminating waypoints for Victor 6. Select SWR (Squaw Valley) and press Enter.
One last dialog appears asking you to confirm that you want to load the airway. Like you'd go to all this trouble by mistake and not want to load the airway? Press Enter to confirm and the airway, along with all the changeover points on that airway, will be added to your flight plan. To help you decide which terminating waypoint to use, the map view next to the flight plan window changes to display the location of the terminating waypoint that you've highlighted.
Changeover points on an airway are often explicitly marked, but just as often they must be identified on a chart by subtle bends in an airway or by a halfway point between two VORs. The big time savings in the G1000's airway-based flight planning feature is that you don't have to stop to figure out changeover points using a paper chart, which is quite useful indeed.
Unfortunately, you can't select an airway, then select another intersecting airway: You must select the waypoint those two airways haven in common, load the first airway, then go through the whole process again for the next airway.
An aside, I find Garmin's use of confirmation dialogs to be both tedious and inconsistent. Frankly, when you're consumed in a classic, heat-of-battle-single-pilot-IFR crisis moment, these dialogs are real time wasters. You go through a bunch of knob twisting to load an airport or a waypoint and it asks you are you sure? But inadvertently press the small FMS knob instead of Enter (which I have seen pilots do countless times) and you're unceremoniously dumped out of whatever you were doing and all the letters you've painstakingly entered are destroyed. Garmin's whole large knob, small knob selection interface has to be one of the worst designs I've ever seen and they continue to propagate it forward when they implement new features, like checklists (which I'll talk about in a future post). But since it's what they provide, I guess we pilots have to hold our noses and just use it. Lucky for us, many of the G1000's other cool features makes it easier to take Garmin's silly user interface faux pas.