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Lucy's Logbook: How one flight fueled my appreciation for a feature

12 December 2012 @ 4:02 PM  / Aviation Blog / Lucy's Logbook /

FuelRangeRingsAn e-mail caught my eye recently from one of our customers who spoke with high regards about his aera 560. During a flight through the DC SFRA, (Special Flight Rules Area) the customer experienced an electrical failure at night with his glass panel cockpit. In an attempt to save his radios and transponder, he shut down his PFD which left him with his aera 560. As expected, the aera guided him to his destination and allowed him to land without issue.

While reading this customer’s e-mail, I was reminded of a time when I was thankful for my Garmin. In my days as a flight instructor, I had the opportunity to teach behind the G1000. My student wanted to do a quick cross-country up to a small, uncontrolled field in the northern woods of Wisconsin. It was a beautiful, quaint fishing town; the type where the code to unlock the FBO is the Unicom frequency.

With the sun beginning to set, we chose to skip fuel and headed home. Once airborne, I noticed the ETA and groundspeed displayed on the G1000 was dramatically different from what we planned. Things weren’t adding up. Taking a look at our now-three hour old weather, it was clear the warm front forecasted to push through had done so, two hours earlier than expected. This explained our strong head wind. Panning out on the MFD, two fuel range rings were overlaid on the navigation page. One ring showed our range with 45 minutes of reserve fuel, and the second showed our range at zero fuel. Our destination was conveniently situated just before the zero fuel range ring. It was getting late, we didn’t want to stop, and I realized I was starting to convince myself we might make it. Taking one more look at the fuel range rings and acting as PIC, I quickly decided it was time to divert.

In a season where we are continually reminded of what we are thankful for, there’s no question the Garmin customer mentioned above was thankful for his aera’s ability to help him navigate and land safely. After all the training and accident-chain scenarios we’ve all read about as pilots, oddly enough the fuel range rings were the break in what could have been an accident chain situation for my student and I. This season, I am thankful for my wonderful family, friends, and co-workers and it’s probably not a stretch to say every time I look at the fuel range rings on a G1000, I am thankful for those too!

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