Which Handheld GPS Should I Consider for Private Aviation?

By Wildcatter Aviation, LLC.

In the private aviation world, there has been an increase in the demand of portable GPS devices. With innovative new models being released every day, it can be hard to find out which one is the best to buy. Both commercial and private pilots need dashboard mounted or handheld GPS units for viewing important information about their surroundings, current location and also weather patterns. For many pilots, an extra handheld GPS is a key backup to the airplane instruments, which will be used in the event of electrical failure onboard. With all of that being said, here are some of the leading handheld GPS units for private aviation:

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Garmin 796

Price:  Around $1,699

Since the Garmin made a name for itself with the very popular and highly reliable 696 model, many aviators though it could never create another GPS unit to top it. However, the Garmin 796 offers even better features than its previous model with a few modern features as well. The touchscreen GPS unit completely eliminates the need for carrying around stacks of physical paper charts, along with new geo-referenced smart charts that allow pilots to watch their plane move across the map in real time. It is also easy to switch between charts as you only need to tap a button. Other features in the 796 include an innovative 3D Vision display with GPS altitude and ground speed. The terrain display has also been color-coded depending on altitude, with airport runways showing just like they do in the real world.

iFly 720

Price: Around $750

The brand new iFly 720 is seen as one of the top competitors to Garmin, and rightly so. This GPS unit is very easy to install and use since the moving map overlays the plane’s position on a sectional chart, approach plate, en-route chart or taxiway. You also get a product that allows automatic updates through Wi-Fi to get updated maps, charts, and sectionals. With a large 7” touchscreen and a slim, lightweight design, the iFly 720 resembles the Garmin 696 and 796 models. The other notable feature of the iFly is that includes an inbuilt street database so that consumers can also use their handheld GPS after landing to help locate restaurants, gas stations, and hotels.

Bendix/King AV8OR GPS

Price: Around $500

This particular GPS unit is not only more affordable, but it also integrates videos, music, and pictures for a complete entertainment solution while you fly. The AV8OR was designed by pilots, for pilots, which means that it is both user-friendly and highly efficient. The 4.3” touchscreen is quite clear as it uses high brightness technology. The GPS can also work both on the ground or in-flight. In flight, this GPS unit features informative data, like terrain, waypoints and airspace boundaries.


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