Comanche 260 Panel Update

Instrument Panel Update
(revised 08/24/2016, added pictures and comments)

During the late 1960’s there was a push to standardize the instrument panel layout in General Aviation aircraft.  The Standard layout was formally adopted in the early 1970’s.  This arrangement included a sequence for the Throttle, Prop and Mixture controls as well as the now familiar 6 pack layout of Instruments.

However, by this time Comanche production was coming to a close.  The latest Comanche model during this time period was the PA-24 260C which conformed to the new instrument layout standard and included a new Throttle, Prop, Mixture quadrant.  However, our Comanche is a ’67 and was produced with non-standard controls and had what is sometimes called a “Shotgun” instrument panel layout.

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The Comanche came from Piper with the typical “shotgun” style panel. Unfortunately it can be quite costly to update.

The Factory configuration is fine if the Comanche is the main airplane you fly.  However, our concern was that much of Morgan’s work as a Flight Instructor involved flying many types of Single and Multi-Engine planes with Standard layouts.  Getting in and out of standardized aircraft all day, then occasionally switching to the non-standard Comanche seemed to invite the chances of a pilot error.

In addition to changing the panel configuration, we also wanted to add an Engine Monitoring System (JPI 830) as well as conform to the upcoming ADS-B requirement.  We chose to install a Garmin GTX330-ES with ADS-B “out” and a Status 2 with an iPad to display ADS-B “in”.  Our plane already had a GNS-430WAAS.

We are sure many GA owners know how difficult it is to rework an instrument panel.  And ours was no exception.

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Ron at Gryphon maintenance did a beautiful job on the panel. Here he is, hard at work crafting the panel.

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Installing the JPI 830 Engine Monitoring system required complete access to the engine compartment, so all the cowling had to be removed.

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Here is the same viewpoint of the instrument panel with the new standardized layout.

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We are happy with the results, but we are still making incremental improvements to the Panel as we go along.  No, it’s not the latest in Glass Panel technology but it is very functional for the time being.  We are toying with the idea of adding glass, but we’ll have to save our nickels first.

Here is a better picture showing the “Before” and “After” with the most recent configuration.Panel beforePanel - After brighter

Here is a basic list of equipment (in somewhat the same order as shown in the picture above):

  • PMA7000 Bluetooth Audio Panel
  • Garmin GNS 430W
  • KX 155 Nav/Com
  • GTX 330-ES with encoding altimeter
  • Altimatic III Autopilot
  • WX-900 Stormscope (BFGoodrich)
  • JPI EDM 830 Engine Monitor
  • GI-106A VOR/LOC/GS/GPS
  • KI-209 VOR/LOC/GS
  • Mid-Continent Annunciator
  • New Throttle, Prop, Mixture Controls
  • Standby Vacuum System (Precise Flight)
  • Davtron M800 Clock with battery backup
  • New Breaker Switches, relocated to visible pilot-facing direction, lower left side of panel
  • Electronic International VA-1 Digital Volt/Ammeter
  • Instrument ring lighting, PTT indicator lights, Solid State Panel Light Dimmer
  • Ashby Glare Shield (Dash Cover)
  • Stratus 2 (mounted in glove box), external ADS-B and GPS antennae, and extra power cable (via cigarette lighter).

 

-May Your Props Always Spin

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