Dirk Folens’ TBM 850 is shown at Daher’s Tarbes, France facility after completing the G1000 NXi avionics upgrade.

The first G1000 NXi upgrade for TBM 850s : A TBM owner’s experience

Announced last summer at AirVenture Oshkosh, the G1000 NXi avionics upgrade for G1000-equipped TBM 850 gained momentum this winter with completion of the first transformation at Daher’s Tarbes factory: TBM 850 SN 436 belonging to Dirk Folens.


The upgrade – available through the Daher TBM Network – involves replacement of the two primary flight displays, the multi-function display, the control keypad and new software and database installation.


Benefits of the Garmin G1000 NXi upgrade to TBM owners are numerous. In addition to a faster system boot up and software loading, it enables the system to manage more data and display visual charts while offering more capabilities such as enhanced situational awareness with easy-to-read information. It also adds improved wireless cockpit connectivity, allowing aviation database uploads using Garmin Flight Stream. Pilot  interface is enhanced through the new keyboard joystick that provides more accurate panning and fluid navigation on the multi-function display pages. Dirk Folens provides his reasons for undertaking the upgrade and the initial experience with the enhanced flight deck:


What was the key factor in deciding on the G1000 NXi upgrade?

I had V15 of the G1000 software installed in January 2017, and I was not comfortable with it due to a number of software issues. When the NXi was announced – combined with the fact that no new features would be developed for the “classic” G1000 – it was clear that the life of the “classic” G1000 would be limited to bring fixes of the existing version.




Benefits of the

Garmin G1000 NXi upgrade

to TBM owners are numerous

Over time, the “classic” will fall further behind in features; additionally, when it comes to selling, buyers will discount the price based on the cost of an upgrade to NXi.

So why wait five years and miss out on the features, just to upgrade later?

When Daher suggested in October that I consider being the prototype for the conversion of the G1000 to G1000NXi, I was happy to agree. I also upgraded to ADS-B IN. 




This projected track shows where the targets will be relative to you at a selected time ahead…brilliant.


Did you receive satisfactory briefings from the Daher technical team?
The project was discussed when I was at Daher’s Tarbes facility in November. Due to the nature of initial installations, the allotted time was five days. As challenges could be encountered from supplier responses (Garmin), the first conversions can encounter unexpected delays. To counter this, we decided to run the conversion in parallel with my aircraft’s annual inspection. (My aircraft has been maintained at Tarbes from Day 1).


What is your assessment of the update, both in terms of the overall work and the completion timing?
The aircraft was available on schedule and I spent a day in training and on flights. Christian Prat from the Daher support team initially demonstrated the features, and I was pleased that all my previous data had been restored: flight plans; waypoints; PFD settings, etc. This made it easier to concentrate on new features. 


Flight instructor, and factory pilot Alain Jaubert spent time explaining the differences with the NXi. This is quite important, as the NXi appears to be the same as the “classic” G1000, but differs in subtle ways. It is important not to become complacent when switching to new systems, particularly ones which appear to be very similar.


How many flights have you made since the retrofit ?

I have had the aircraft for three weeks and performed seven flights.

These have been varied: visual approaches, GPS approaches; ILS; some (training) missed approaches, so the range of conditions have been extensive. As a result, I’ve explored the features and have particular favorites:

  • The classic G1000 boot-up time had grown longer over time, particularly with V15, so the first difference is in the boot-up speed. The speed means that the NXi is going to change the way you start-up. You can now start with full avionics so you can get the ATIS without having to change TWR frequency. Also, the radar goes into standby as part of the start-up sequence. The start-up process is shortened and simplified.
  • The availability of charts on the FPL page (tab between map and chart) is really useful, as I can view the approach chart on the FPL page then toggle to the Airport page and have the arrival chart displayed. This helps me significantly, as I have to fly the arrival for EIDW (Dublin Airport, Ireland), then transition to the IFR approach for my airfield, EIWT (Dublin Weston Airport). Therefore, I need charts on two airfields simultaneously. Before NXi I could not access both charts digitally at the same time, so I needed paper or tablet charts as well.
  • The traffic picture is totally different with ADS-B IN. Now there are little vector arrows for ADS-B returns. You can get flight details (“UA105…) and “see” who ATC is talking to. The system will construct a projected track vector of other aircraft based on the IN data. This projected track shows where the targets will be relative to you at a selected time ahead…brilliant. Gone are the diamonds and wondering: “Which way is he heading?” A real improvement!
  • The database has been greatly simplified: You copy charts and nav data to one SD; insert this into the MFD with power off; power on and after a short time. Presto…done!


Would you recommend this upgrade to other TBM G1000 owners?
The classic G1000 is a very good avionics package and you can fly with it for many years to come. But, you will miss out on speed improvements and presentation; as well as the integration of future features, be they mandatory (such as those required by increasingly automated ATC) or new software features (such as IFR visual approaches). Equipment integration also will be a problem as I doubt whether the “classic” G1000 will plug-in/display data from new radars, etc.

I would suggest upgrade at a suitable date (to coincide with an annual, for example). So why not benefit now, since pilots will want it at some stage: they’ll either pay for it sooner or later (either by undertaking it, or losing the value in the aircraft’s sale price).









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