If you’ve ever had difficulty finding a location when driving, you know the importance of GPS tools. In aviation, GPS units are all the more important for pilots because who likes being lost in the clouds?
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I’ve Reviewed These Aviation GPS Units for Private Pilots
I’ve looked at some of the best aviation GPS units for private pilots to make your search easier. My choices include the full range from the best budget unit to the best premium option.
What Types of GPS Units Are Available for Aviation?
- GPS Aviator watches – Pilot watches with built-in GPS capabilities
- Handheld GPS units – Portable units with all the features found in panel-mounted units
- Panel-mounted GPS devices – GPS devices that mount on a panel on the plane’s dashboard
The selections I have reviewed include the following:
- an aviator smartwatch with wellness features, the Garmin D2™ Mach 1 Touchscreen Aviator Smartwatch
- a handheld option prized for its portability, the Garmin inReach Mini
- an exceptional GPS device to also report weather and traffic, the Stratux ADS-B Dual Band Receiver
- a device that easily handles multiple devices is the Black Elf 2200 GPS Pro
For an aviator smartwatch with GPS that also offers wellness features, you won’t go wrong with the Garmin D2™ Mach 1 Touchscreen Aviator Smartwatch. The touchscreen works well in bright sunlight, so you never need to miss anything important.
I recently took this on a trip and I found it easier to figure out where we were going because we had a moving map, a horizontal situation indicator (HSI), and a worldwide aeronautical database.
One of the things I liked best was the emergency mode, which let me know where to land in case I needed to do so quickly.
Using some of the most common models, my former CFI and I liked how easy it was to check the weather for aviation. When you connect this device to your phone, you can get access to a wider range of reports.
Airport information is available, including airport frequencies, runway lengths, and runway orientation. You can also access wind components if you use your device while paired with a smartphone.
We appreciated access to the Pulse Ox feature, available in select countries. This feature monitors your blood oxygen levels, and a barometric altimeter provides altitude alerts.
Display size: 1.3 in
Garmin inReach Mini
I enjoyed the Garmin inReach Mini‘s convenient pocket size. In addition to tracking your journey, you can share it with others who are not on your flight but are interested in your progress.
The satellite coverage is subscription-supported through the Iridium network. You can easily communicate with others using compatible Garmin devices on and off the plane.
I also enjoyed subscribing to a weather forecast service that provides helpful updates. You can also send these updates to other devices, keeping everyone updated on the weather.
Style: Handheld Display size: 9 in Wi-Fi: Yes
Stratux ADS-B Dual Band Receiver
If you need a GPS device that excels in providing weather and traffic information, the Stratux ADS-B Dual Band Receiver is the device that you want. This GPS unit supports 13 popular non-Garmin electronic flight bags for the greatest versatility.
I liked how easily this receiver keeps pilots updated on the weather and air-to-air traffic. Some updated information that pilots will find most helpful includes temperatures and winds aloft.
I also like that I can use both Android and Apple devices, which is a very useful feature. If your tablet is Wi-Fi only, this GPS device will work without any problems.
You’ll find your receiver ready to set up because the latest firmware is on the microSD card included. Another feature is a rechargeable battery pack, which is good for over four hours of flying time. I had a good experience with this on a recent flight.
Black Elf 2200 GPS Pro
The Black Elf 2200 GPS Pro provides sharing for up to five iOS devices at a time. I appreciated how easily the Bluetooth connection enabled sharing.
This device offers up to 16 hours of battery time in Bluetooth mode or 36 hours in simple data logging mode. Your LCD screen will display battery life, along with other relevant information.
I liked the position update feature that allows location sharing ten times per second. With a storage capacity of 100 hours, you can easily share your trip details.
Has Garmin been FAA-approved?
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved Garmin’s Autoland safety feature. A pilot or passenger can land the plane with a single button push.
How accurate are GPS systems in planes?
GPS device providers adhere to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards. These standards require 7.0 m accuracy anywhere on or near the earth’s surface 95% of the time.
How much does Garmin Pilot cost?
You can get Garmin Pilot from the Apple Store with a 30-day trial. After the trial, the app will cost $79.99 for a year.