The Digital Solution

Does it still make financial or practical sense to maintain some analog instruments in your panel? Several manufacturers continue to make strides in offering affordable digital, electronic replacements for original, traditional analog attitude indicator instruments (aka “horizons”). OEM’s have released products that are not only reasonably affordable but offer higher reliability and some additional features over original, analog instruments. One of the most noteworthy of these OEM’s is Garmin with it’s recently released digital replacement the G5, which will replace traditional electromechanical backup instruments.

g5The Garmin G5 is a bright, 3.5” LCD color displayed, compact & cost-effect solution that delivers reliability as a standalone primary source for aircraft attitude or turn coordination information while also displaying secondary information. The G5 also delivers a solid airspeed indicator, altimeter, and vertical speed indicator.  Installation is made simple as the G5 is designed to integrate into existing systems, and is a standard 3-1/8 inch size. It can be used as standalone or fully integrated, dissimilar backup flight instrument for G3X & G3X Touch or other EFIS glass cockpits. For owners of older aircraft who thought a glass panel would be untouchable, the retail price is only $2,149, which includes the G5 unit, a four-hour back-up battery, and an installation kit.

In conjunction with the availability and lower pricing of the digital attitude instrument announcements, the FAA has published a policy describing the acceptable methods of replacing analog attitude instruments with electronic replacements. In this policy, the FAA provides further background for the substantiation of replacing aging, analog instruments with more current electronic technology.  These reasons may include:

  • Costs to maintain
  • Parts availability
  • Reliability

The policy explains some of the acceptable and airworthiness methods of replacing primary attitude instruments.  Some of these methods include:

  •  Replacement of a single function analog indicator with a single primary function electronic indicator (i.e. not interfaced to other systems such as autopilot or other systems).
  • Replacement of vacuum, analog instrument with electronic instrument containing a dedicated standby battery.

These are not the only methods and other installation conditions that must be met, but the point is that there are reasonable means and methods to upgrade to a more ideal, electronic instrument as a minor alteration in the aircraft.

For more detailed information on the new Garmin G5 or any of these new digital instruments or if you just need guidance on replacing any original, analog instruments in your aircraft, please do not hesitate to contact SEA or visit

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