Monday, December 17, 2007
The Hard Way
Continuing my review of "enhancements" to the G1000, here's a review of the checklist feature. The checklists are airframe specific and I know of no way to edit their content to add your own items - you get the manufacturer's checklist, period. To access aircraft checklists on the Cessna airframe version of the G1000, press the CHECKLIST softkey on the lower right side of the Multi-Function Display (MFD). Then you'll notice something I found startling - virtually none of the nine unassigned softkeys at the bottom of the display have any function. More on this later.
The first time you press the CHECKLIST softkey on the Multi-Function Display (MFD), the emergency checklists are displayed by default. While this may be a laudable design goal, the first emergency checklist displayed is ENGINE FAILURE DURING TAKEOFF ROLL followed by ENGINE FAILURE IMMEDIATELY AFTER TAKEOFF. Who's going to have time to access these during either of those flight regimes, even with two crew members on board? Maybe the lawyers made them do this, but it's a pretty inconvenient arrangement.
The checklist categories are:
To change to one of the other categories of checklists, you need be sure the unit is in cursor mode, then turn the small FMS knob. There's no indication of that being in cursor mode and turning the small knob are required, you just have to remember that this is how the checklist interface works. So if EMERGENCY PROCEDURES is the default category, why didn't the Garmin designer simply assign a softkey to the remaining five categories? I wish I knew, but the Garmin engineers often seem to favor complex knob twisting sequences to simple key presses. I wonder how many of their designers are pilots and, if so, how often they fly single-pilot with Garmin hardware.
To get out of the emergency checklist, be sure you are in cursor mode (the checklist category is highlighted), then turn the small FMS knob to get a drop-down list of checklist categories, then scroll to the desired category, then press Enter.
Once you have selected the checklist category, you press Enter to check-off each item as you complete it. Note that there are still plenty of softkeys available, but only three are being used.
Once you have reached the end of the checklist and want to go to the next checklist category, near as I have determined, you have to spin the big FMS knob to get back to the top, turn the small FMS knob to get the drop-down list, then select the next category.
While I like the idea of electronic checklists, methinks this particular implementation might be a bit a bit too convoluted. I'll probably continue to play around with it, but a paper checklist is probably a lot easier to use.