Hello! I am a Canadian avionics technician working for a specialized avionics shop in a major city. Avionics is a specialized type of aircraft maintenance, primarily focused on electrical systems and distribution, navigation systems, engine and environmental monitoring, audio, engine FADEC controls, and information display. In the US and other places, avionics work is under the umbrella of all generalized aircraft maintenance, but in Canada there are seperate licenses, certifications, and training programs for avionics specifically.

The company I work for works by contract and we provide support to numerous charter companies, airlines, and maintenance shops in both this city and others. We also hold approvals for multiple different Garmin flighdeck and unit installations.

I have recent experience with installing all sorts of Garmin flight decks for private owners and public charter operators alike. I have also carried out line maintenance on Collins Proline 21 systems and a large mishmash of other avionics systems. Ask me anything!

Proof: https://imgur.com/a/VwN18OT

Comments: 156 • Responses: 55  • Date: 

twojs1b50 karma

What's your take on cellphone and other electronics on board possibly causing interference with aircraft equipment?

Mikeyme1998112 karma

I really like this question. "Interference" is such a broad term, but what is most in the context of this question and the use of cellphones will be cellular signals and things like wifi, bluetooth, etc... all wireless signals that a cell phone or laptop typically sends and receives.

Within an aircraft itself, wireless transmission between avionics equipment is not used (besides sometimes having a bluetooth enabled audio panel on small privates, to listen to music like a car). There is virtually no way for a wireless signal as small as what a cell phone uses to interfere with avionics equipment busses within the aircraft. It is far more likely that the other wires within a bundle will cause issues via eddy currents, but we have shielding for any high power wires that risk this type of issue.

Now the big dilemma, especially recently, is with the cell phone signals interfering with equipment that receives its OWN traffic from other sources, IE. GPS, VOR, ADF, etc. Every electrical device (generally speaking) that sends and receives wireless signals does so via frequencies, 2.4GHz wifi, 5G or LTE cell towers, etc. All bands of aviation equipment (comm radios, NAV radios, etc) have been easily tunable and isolated from consumer electronics, until the large 5G debacle that came up a few months ago. This was the closest that the industry got to actually having a proper bandwidth conflict in recent memory, since 5G cellular devices are high power and very close to a specific set of equipment used in aircraft called the Radio (or Radar) Altimeter. I won't get too into the technicalities (if youre interested I wrote quite a long piece regarding this here) In laymans terms, this piece of equipment uses a beam of frequencies that sweeps up and down from about 4.2 to about 4.4GHz, and shoots it at the ground. Depending on the received signals in reference to the signals it is sending at any present time, it can determine the distance from the ground that the airplane is to a very precise degree. Because of this, many things that a pilot relies on during landing are dependant on the radio altimeter readings. They are especially important during low visibility landings.

The worry was that since cellphone towers are ground based, high energy, and close to the bandwidth, that there would be interference and faulty readings received in the cockpit. However, steps have been made in most developed countries to avoid the use of 5G and aiming them directionally away from runways. I have never personally heard of a pilot who has had issue with his equipment due to 5G or any other electronic users on the aircraft. The biggest reason, IMO, that airliners ask you to put your electronics away is so you are aware and attentive to the safety briefings and your surroundings in the event that an emergency were to happen at critical flight points, i.e takeoff and landing.

TL;DR: Airplane mode does not save avionics equipment, and the likelihood of your phone affecting anything in the cockpit is nearly zero.

Poncho_au12 karma

Aren’t most airlines globally now allowing Bluetooth and WiFi inflight? They are in Australia.
I think the historic reasons for technology off inflight was a near entirely unfounded fear of interference.
The reasons for putting certain devices away during takeoff and landing is the risk of flying objects.
The reason airplane mode is still mandated on flights to my understanding is because of the likelihood that people will start taking calls and being even more annoying during flights.

theslowcrap3 karma

Would a cellular connection work well at cruise speed?

Mikeyme19988 karma

Not at all, in fact once you get above a few thousand feet above ground level, the cell towers simply wouldn't reach you. Contrary to what you might think, cell towers are very directional and don't propagate particularly well. That's why you don't get signal in valleys etc. Same goes for in the air, there's no point in pointing the dishes UP, so you have almost no signal at all unless it's some bounced waves off of mountains

Tie-Down13 karma

Hey, flight instructor over here! Is there any new advancements in avionics that are really interesting to you? Thanks you for doing this AMA man!

Mikeyme199842 karma

Hey there! Thanks for the question and for getting our next generation up in the air safely!

I've worked for a large airline pre-covid as well as the smaller shop that I'm with now, and I've noticed that most of the really neat stuff is concentrated towards the big jets, rather than smaller aircraft like the stuff I work with now. With the stuff I have now, it has a definitive identity and it mostly works to chase the changes in policy like ADS-B and diversity transponder (basically turning the transponder from air to ground to air based, to more air to air/space based... think communication to space based satellites rather than a ground station... this gets complicated due to the differences in US vs Canadian transponder infastructure). There are a lot of cool little hidden features in the small planes, like units that can autotune to a frequency based on GPS position (it knows ground is 121.8, so you can just 'tune ground' rather than dial in the frequency), or integrated airport charts that you can pull up on your screens which completely negate the need for an EFB with charts. I also really like synthetic vision and going in that direction for IFR flying.

But the REALLY cool stuff is on the big jets.

The Airbus A220 was just coming into our fleet as I was leaving, and I was privileged evough to run a bit of maintenance on it. The thing that blew me away is that this airliner had like, 10 buttons. The rest was all automatic or virtually controlled. It was like the inside of a really really nice car, instead of the spaceship esque interior were used to seeing. And on top of that, it had about 6 physical circuit breakers, with all the rest being virtual. You could go into your maintenance menu, select the type of maintenance you were doing, and the plane would just pull its own CBs. It was wild.

But the coolest part was the onboard communication integration.

During flight, it would send any snags that it sensed to an iPad that a maintenance personel had inside a van. That maintenance engineer could see the problem, and poke around the aircraft computers for info DURING FLIGHT from the ground. The plane would then talk to a database and tell the maintainer what parts it needed, give you the maintenance reference, tell you affected systems, etc... all while the plane was happily flying to you. I have never felt so obsolete in my life, but it was DAMN cool.

EDIT: Ok, the cockpit definitely has more than 10 buttons... The image I had in my mind was a bit different from reality! In general though, the layout and general complexity of the cockpit was vastly improved compared to what I usually saw in the A320 or 757/767/777.

jlove345 karma

You worked for team red 😂

Mikeyme19983 karma


jeanwolf3 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA! What is your opinion on the A220 other than that? Based on what you heard in general in the industry and on the fact that it is a relatively new aircraft and it's reliability remains to be proven?

Mikeyme19988 karma

Hey! You're very welcome, I'm learning as much as everyone else is by trying to give as good an answer as I can to you all!

In general, I worked on the A220 very little and I'm not trained in any official capacity on it (no type course or anything). Moreover, the aircraft operations I work with now don't really overlap with any A220 operators so take my answer with a grain of salt, and it's going to be pretty generalized.

The Airbus A220 was originally the Bombardier C110 and C130 (different variants) and was subsequently redesigned to the CS100 and CS300 in 2009. Bombardier had a rocky start with it, having an engine failure early on in flight testing and getting into a pretty aggressive race with Airbus and their A320 program, which Bombardier was attempting to square off against.

After more testing, the CS100 and CS300 got Transport Canada approval in 2015 and 2016 respectively, and in 2018 Airbus aquired the type certificate and rebranded to the A220. (I gathered most of this info from the Wikipedia article... I had no idea about the pretty fascinating history of this thing besides the Bombardier involvement so thank you for prompting this!)

My opinion on the aircraft is generally good. I think it was designed to try and do things differently both in terms of customer experience and technologically. Innovation is not something that aviation is altogether famous for, and generally when a company does so in such a way that Bombardier did they come under heavy scrutiny by both Transport and the commercial market (which, realistically, is pretty cornered). I think this point increases tenfold with the early issues that the C100/130 had in testing. Getting approvals for anything is a huge time dedication and requires incredible amounts of persistance, money, and time. Our company has been involved in applying and receiving STCs (basically paperwork and plans that allow and certify modifications for an aircraft) and they take years of work to complete. I can't imagine how much more intense the process is for a commercial passenger airliner.

All of that to say, I would trust a Canadian or American maintainted A220 with my life. But that is just based off of what I know of the airframe and moreover, the industry itself and our standards for safety. Things break, but in general there are always safety nets that pilots and aviation professionals can deploy to mitigate any real world risk in 99% of situations.

I will never say that aviation is perfectly safe, because nothing is perfectly safe. But I have seen the firsthand diligence and procedures that we go through to minimize the risk to the absolute lowest probability, and it's a risk that I accept and face whenever I fly commercially, privately, for flight tests, and everything in between.

68Pritch11 karma

What aircraft has been the toughest to install a new Garmin suite in and why?

Mikeyme199849 karma

Early last year I helped lead a dual GTN750TXi with GDU install on a french made aircraft, the TBM850. The GTN750TXi system is a NAV/COMM unit with integrated GPS, TCAS, XPDR, and audio panel and the GDU was made to replace the primary flight instruments with a large screen for the pilot and copilot.

This install was certainly my most difficult, as these aircraft are not mass produced and you could tell it was not made to be worked on aftermarket. For instance, all of the existing wire did not have any identification stamping on it. In Canada, it is mandated that any wiring added to an aircraft needs to have an identifying mark (usually just some letters and numbers) at set intervals across the entire length of the wire. This ensures that you can properly route, trace, and troubleshoot by understanding what info each wire was carrying.

Not the TBM.

The TBM had baby blue wires going everywhere, all without any markings. This made integrating into any existing wiring (for instance, splicing onto an existing harness carrying engine parameters instead of replacing entire sensors) INCREDIBLY time consuming. It was also very nerve wracking when you found a wire that was cut somewhere behind the panel; obviously as part of removals we need to cut out existing wiring to old instruments, but having a cut wire hanging out and being forced to decide whether to complete taking it out (and risk needing that wire after all) was never a fun call.

Apart from this, the TBM had DOZENS of different connection styles. What I mean by this is typically, a manufacturer will decide on one style of wire termination; cannon plugs, d-subs for units, ground stud/ring terminal, AMP grounding block, grounding rail for airframe grounds, etc.

Not the TBM.

The TBM had a little bit of everything... some ground studs, some ground blocks, even some automotive knife splice grounds. It was impossible to have all the right crimpers/terminations that you might need that day, and we ended up with all sorts of goofy borrowed crimpers from all around the airport for these bizarre decisions.

The last point I'll make about the TBM is the equipment locations and unorthodox avionics placements. Usually, a small aircraft will have avionics in one of three places; in the nose of the plane (forward of the pressure bulkhead), behind the panel of the plane directly in the cockpit, or under the floor.

Not the TBM.

It had stuff all over the place. Some in the floor, some in the nose, some in the far reaches of the tail. This made it very impossible to estimate our wire length prior to the arrival of the aircraft (when we fabricate some of the harness on the bench), so a lot of our prep work was deemed worthless because the wire lengths were so wrong. A lot of wasted time and energy. The TBM is also BLOODY SMALL... so trying to get three techs in there was damn near impossible, even if we were working on seperate systems. Very little space for tools, hands, sightlines, and appendages. A lot of Rub A535 was used on this project.

_hugerobots_7 karma

Did you make appropriate labels for the important stuff like, ‘Crisse de merde/GDU’, ‘Tabernacle/Landing gear’, ‘take off eh/O2 masks’

Mikeyme19988 karma

The fella who we were doing this for was a native English speaker who lived in Ontario, so English only was perfectly acceptable haha!

pdxcanuck10 karma

What’s the latest on ADS-B compliance for Canada? Still antenna diversity? Any cost-effective solutions on the way from Garmin on this?

Mikeyme19985 karma

Very good question! I'm honestly not the most up to date with ADS-B and diversity nuances (and Garmin's answer to these) besides some basic knowledge (Canada's rollout plan and the fact that diversity is required for aircraft operating in Canadian and US airspace both)However, I feel that you deserve a more fleshed out answer than I can provide this morning (and you've piqued my interest also), so I'm going to learn and get some info together for us and come back tonight with a great answer. Stay tuned!

Zakluor4 karma

Canadian air traffic controller here.

ADS-B mandates are on the way. Originally scheduled for February this year for Class A and B, the first mandate has been pushed back into this summer. Classes C, D, and E mandates are now "no earlier than 2026". The original dates did not, so they say, give enough time for aircraft owners to procure and install avionics.

As a controller, I like ADS-B. My job is a lot easier and safer when I can see where you are, whether IFR or VFR, and I can use rules that are much more efficient with any kind of surveillance (Radar, Mlat, ADS-B, whether ground or space-based), meaning fewer delays. Radar antennas are spread pretty far to provide optimal coverage, but leave holes, especially at low altitudes. Your 7700 squawk could go unnoticed of you're low and fast enough from a radar site. ADS-B fills many of those. Safety and efficiency are improved immensely, even if you're not in communication with ATC.

If I had my way, everyone would be using it already, but I understand costs and availability are issues. I can be patient and continue to issue holds as needed for those low-density airports.

Edit: Antenna diversity is still required. Downward-facing-only isn't good for satellites looking down from above and there is simply far too much countryside to cover with ground-based infrastructure.

Mikeyme19982 karma

Thank you so much for this! I'm full of respect for you guys, it's really quite cool to see you pop in here for my AMA. Very cool to hear things from your perspective!

PeanutSalsa9 karma

Do you think there will be a point when flying vehicles become so safe, affordable, and readily available that they're used in the everyday lives of consumers for minor travel like cars are?

Mikeyme199836 karma

Great question! Honestly I believe that there are fundamental safety and reputation issues with travelling by air that are simply too difficult to solve in the near future. I also believe that the market for aviation has settled at near daylight-robbery levels, and there is not enough pressure from competition to drive this down to the level where we'll be parking aircraft in our driveways anytime soon.

To elaborate on my first point; Cars are devices of inertia... you press the gas and go forward, you press the brakes and stop. You are only ever fighting one force... which is the momentum of forward or reverse travel. You can mitigate the damage that inertia causes by using seatbelts, crumple zones, airbags, and headrests.

In an aircraft, you are always contending with gravity. This is a much harder puzzle to solve, as it is a constant form of acceleration that you can't resist against. And more importantly, it is always potential energy while your machine is running, but becomes kinetic very fast when the machine fails. I believe that the reason that flying is seen as unsafe and not commonplace is that when your machine breaks, you don't come to a stop but rather begin accelerating towards a very sticky situation.

EDIT: This isn't even mentioning weather considerations, traffic direction, and enforcement all of which pilots train for years to understand and integrate to. Also, we monkeys can barely stay focused and resist distraction when travelling in two dimensions... we really don't need a third.

deepaksn2 karma

It would have to be like an extreme version of RVSM—probably solely based on a very accurate WAAS type GPS with RNP 0.01 (60 feet) or better and vertical separation of 100 feet or less (think Blade Runner, Fifth Element, Jetsons, Coruscant flying cars) and as automated as an elevator (people only selecting destinations… not operating the vehicle).

But yeah the biggest problem is actually flying. Endurance related to energy density, power to weight, as well as effects on surroundings and safety (the smaller the rotor/thruster.. the more turbulence and blast is created).

Mikeyme19981 karma

Very cool thinking having the flight part being primarily automated and self propelled, I hadn't thought about it that way!

hebrewchucknorris8 karma

Is the pay at Canadian AMOs still as bad as when I left 4 years ago? My old gig capped out AME-Es at ~70k unless you were a lead hand.

I tour overseas and literally doubled my salary, and I only work half the year.

I'd like to be at home every day, but 70k in a HCOL city just doesn't cut it.

You are knowledgeable, and well spoken, have you thought about overseas work? Have you ever done line maintenance?

Mikeyme199810 karma

I can say that the standard salary has certainly not gotten to a level that rivals overseas work, or even work south of the border. I know of a good handful of techs that live on Canada and work in the US, just due the substantial wage difference. I'm fortunate enough to have gotten in young and gotten on with a really generous company that meets my needs at present.

Our MRO does line maintenance occasionally, and I did daily line maintenance with the airline I worked with for a short period. Overseas work in my future certainly isn't off the table, but it's not in the cards for the next five or so years. Thank you so much for the compliments though my friend! I wish you the best of luck on your ventures in other timezones!

silashoulder8 karma

Does your work involve calculating Einsteinian relative time between synced satellites? That was always the most fascinating thing about GPS to me.

Mikeyme199822 karma

It very much does not, not at this level at least. I'm sure there is a formula running in the software of these flightdecks or on the satellites that is able to calculate this, and certainly someone who builds and monitors it, but as long as I see the signal bars go green on my screens I'm a happy camper.

texanrocketflame7 karma

How much is a Garmin install? For say G500/G1000?

Mikeyme199812 karma

They can vary widely depending on airframe and package details, plus what equipment you settle on obviously. I'm not exclusively privy to that information but from what I know, a G1000 is roughly $300,000 USD to $400,000 USD for parts and labor. The G1000 is a full conversion mod with integrated autopilot, so that will be near the top end of the price range for Garmin installs.

texanrocketflame4 karma

Thank you for your reply! I really appreciate it!

Mikeyme19985 karma

Oh thank you for the question!! Sorry I couldn't give a super awesome breakdown for you!

Cimexus1 karma

That’s expensive … which makes me wonder. What proportion of that price is realised/incorporated in the price of brand new aircraft sold by the manufacturer with a G1000 preinstalled?

For example if I bought a brand new plane for $600k which came with a G1000, I assume that the G1000 isn’t representing literally half the cost of the entire aircraft…

Mikeyme19982 karma

Like anything, there will be a depreciation as soon as the work is done and it flies. You also likely won't find an aircraft with a G1000NXi under a few million dollars being sold by a manufacturer, so the price kind of scales. There are G1000NXi systems for like, Cessna 172s, but the price I mentioned above would be more geared towards dual turbine engine installs with an MFD. For example, the DAHER Kodiak 100 comes with a G1000NXi straight from factory, but costs north of $2,000,000.

Cimexus2 karma

Ah ok. I was particularly thinking of aircraft like the Diamond DA40NG, which as far as I can see from the Diamond price list, comes with a G1000 NXi as standard and is in the $600k range.

I’m just a simmer though, not a real pilot … was just curious as to how much of the cost of new planes lies in the avionics.

Mikeyme19982 karma

Ohhhh yeah, I see where the confusion lies! With something like the DA40NG, you're saving money on no MFD, probably only one pitot static system (so only one ADC), one GEA71 for engine parameters, possibly only one transponder that might not be diversity, no weather radar, etc. The G1000NXi is kind of like the base platform that can accommodate a number of different systems, and a full quote like half a million is something an airliner would get.

MustBeHere5 karma

How is the avionics industry for recent grads?

Mikeyme19983 karma

I would say that it's pretty lucrative and you're in a good place for career growth. Most shops we go and contract for are hurting for in-house avionics, and we are very busy for the majority of our work year. The maintenance force in canada also has a very high average age, and there are way more guys retiring than there are people available to meet the maintenance demands. As with anything though, there are caveats and certainly ways by which you can improve your chances in getting a good job close to graduation. Do your best to have a good rapport with your instructors; their word has been enough for companies to give me a chance. The industry is small and you want to stand out as much as you can.

Talk to as many people in as many companies as you can... when I was graduating I drove to some shops and hangars around the airport and asked to visit their avionics departments... it's good to know what you might be signing on for and it helps show great inititive.

Overall I think as long as you demonstrate your desire to learn and understand, you'll find work. In this industry, your reputation is key so make sure you take small steps to build that up a little bit more every day.

stingrayerr5 karma

Does 5G signals interfere with avionics and control tower Comms?

Mikeyme199813 karma

5G use by consumer electronics has definite and (in my opinion) founded concern for aircraft avionics, to an extent. I'll preface this by saying these concerns have been raised and government authorities are seemingly dealing with it so as to avoid any major incidents or disruptions.

The inside scoop that I can give you is this.

5G stands for 5 gigahertz Fifth Generation (EDIT: as some commenters pointed out, I was originally wrong here. 5G stands for "Fifth Generation" and has nothing to do with the frequency range it operate in), and is simply the frequency of which the wireless signals arrive to your cell phone. 5G operates in the frequency band of 3.65-3.98GHz. Frequency in its most basic form is energy pulses, with a higher frequency having those energy pulses closer together (higher energy per time period) and a lower frequency having them farther apart (lower energy). Everything in wireless transmission uses frequency (generally), including GPS, radio navigation, and communication radio.

Now communication radio uses the range 117.975MHz (which stands for megahertz) and 137.00MHz (although the radios are tunable only to 118.00MHz and 136.975MHz, there is a buffer for this bandwidth). This means it is physically impossible for 5G to interfere with any voice communication, as the waves are so so so much different than the range which our radios are built and designed to pick up.

Now as for avionics equipment... most of our stuff is built to operate at vastly different frequencies than anything your cell phone uses, but there is one piece of tech that uses a band very close to 5G. That is the radio altimeter, as I mentioned in a comment above and also in this comment here. Radio altimeter uses the frequencies of 4.2GHz to 4.4GHz, which is less than half a GHz above from cell phone 5G towers. Also, due to the design and construction of this device, it requires utmost precision and signals that are as clean as they can possibly be. This piece of equipment is also very important for low visibility landings (at night or in weather) and is also the main method by which helicopters can autohover at a fixed altitude. All this to say; its very important that it works without interference. Cell towers are extremely high power transmitters, so the concern for these two pieces of equipment conflicting was certainly valid.

Now outside of some headaches and nasty emails between government transport authorities and telecomm companies, what does it mean for you? Well the long and the short of it is you are very, very, very unlikely to ever notice. Telecomm companies don't like building tall cell towers near airports for obvious reasons, and due to the nature of 5G it can be adjusted to be quite precise in where the waves end up. Canada and the US have already introduced mandates for 5G cell tower placement (you can read the CASA that Transport Canada put out here) and it seems that there is no official concern following these.

Poncho_au10 karma

5G (in cellular communications) definitely doesn’t stand for “5 gigahertz” it stands for “5th generation”. I’m pretty sure 5G doesn’t even use any frequency in the 5 gigahertz range globally.

Source re the frequency usage: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/5G_NR_frequency_bands

Mikeyme19985 karma

Yes, you're absolutely right. Definitely a mistake by me, thanks for the source and the correction!

statikuz7 karma

Since when does 5G stand for 5 gigahertz? Isn't it just "5th generation"?

Mikeyme19982 karma

Yes, youre right. Definitely a mistake on my part, thank you for the correction!

stingrayerr2 karma

Are the rest of the world catching up to this?

Hate to see air disasters in other parts of the world.

Mikeyme19985 karma

I'll be honest and say the news coverage from other parts of the world hasn't grabbed my attention. I know for certain that Canada and the FAA in the States are mandating limitations and safety margins for these technologies, and I've heard EASA in Europe is also aware of the concerns, but I'm most informed on my own regulations and I don't know the extent to which other countries are handing it.

Keep in mind that aviation in developed countries strives for absolute safety and huge margins of error to make air travel as safe as possible. This system, of course, is not perfect... But when I say things like "cause for concern" in my replies, I am very much not saying these technologies ARE volatile and ARE going to cause crashes. The closest thing I can say for certain is we don't know, and when we don't know, it's best to assume the worst and take steps to get as close to certain safety as we possibly can in order to avoid the unknown.

Many countries do not operate in this manner, as we've all sadly seen on the news with occasional aviation accidents that could arguably be avoided. Knowing this, the 5G mandates that we put in place in my country could be very different from what other countries may or may not do. And the outcome of that is, unfortunately, only going to show itself in time.

Raider4403 karma

Recently with the Russian Invasion of Ukraine there has been a flood of pictures of pilots from both sides(mainly Russian Strike Aircraft) using civilian GARMIN GPS units instead of their onboard instruments for navigation and strike missions. Do you have an idea why?

Mikeyme19983 karma

The only thing I can come up with is space vs ground based navigation. Most old planes will not be equip with built in GPS (I admit I don't know what equipment these jets have) and only use VOR or ADF technology. VOR and ADF are both ground based radio navigation tools, so easily sabotaged by destroying a radio tower, meaning your planes lose navigation. GPS, though, is space based and a lot more difficult to disrupt. If I had to guess this is the reason... It's also a lot easier to preplan and map a GPS plan, as you don't need to worry about tuning VOR beacons and switching the nav source.

PureGibberish3 karma

More like Eh-vionics up north, am I right? -American Avionics Tech

Mikeyme19984 karma

Sorry eh, my hoser brain missed that while I was oot having a dart

catherder90003 karma

Do you ever tell your customers/clients that spending the money on the NXi upgrade is a 50-50 bullshit proposition because nobody, anywhere, ever, can reliably use the utterly broken and poorly engineered steps to use wi-fi for Garmin updates and 99.99% of every user will revert back to using the reliable stick method? I am still amazed that there hasn't been a class action suit by all the aircraft owners who have been hoodwinked by Garmin over this garbage.

Mikeyme19985 karma

To be frank, this is the first time I'm hearing of both Garmin's advertising of the updates over wifi, and issues with the technology. I'm quite low level, so the package and purchase decisions are typically made above my head prior to my involvement. I'll say that I've always done my software loading of any sort over usb and SD card (for no political reason besides that's just how I know to do it) and the odd time when a customer has asked for guidance with the process I've always instructed doing so via hardware storage device.

That being said, if it's a lapse in our marketing I'll perform my due diligence and bring it up to my PRM and DOM when I'm in today that this technology is potentially flawed. Thank you for the insight!

Ultragreed2 karma

What's your favourite musical instrument and why is it Bass?

Mikeyme19981 karma

I play the alto saxophone actually!

CarbonFeet2 karma

Is it possible to start your own business doing this type of work? What would the US equivalent title be?

Mikeyme19981 karma

It certainly is possible, but it would be hard to start one without prior reputation. The hardest part will be trying to find companies who trust you enough to allow you to grow through them; taking extra time because you need to borrow test boxes or order parts for instance. But that being said, my company was started by two techs who wanted to do things the right way and we are doing very well now! Of course there are growing pains, but overall if you have the dedication I'm sure you'll find success.

In US, all avionics work is completed by mechanics (or A&P [Airframe and Powerplant] technicians). I'm sure there are specialized shops and nuances that I'm missing, but as far as official titles go, in the US it all falls under aircraft maintenance as far as I know.

Galladaddy2 karma

As a fellow AME, I’m wondering what your take is on the industries low pay and supposed high demand comparatively to the US and major airlines and how it is sustainable at this rate?

Mikeyme19982 karma

I do agree that the industry as a whole underpays techs and especially apprentices. I was extremely fortunate to find a company that allows me to live comfortably and maintain a life outside of work, but hearing stories from around the airport about new hires being paid less than fast food workers does disappoint me, especially with how desperate everyone is for good techs of all sort.

Honestly I don't have the life experience to feel like I can share a founded opinion on sustainability and compare the Canadian aviation sector to others around the world, and I think that there are a lot of underpaid professions and careers that also have definite room to grow that land outside of aviation.

Sorry if this answer seems kind of weird, I honestly challenged myself with this one and I had a hard time gathering my thoughts when it comes to financial politics

internetlad2 karma

What's your favorite train?

Mikeyme19982 karma

Canadian Pacific has a holiday train that makes its way around Canada around, obviously, holiday time. It's just a standard freight train but its full of lights and decorations. I like that one because I remember it coming through every city and town I ever lived in growing up, and so seeing it today makes me appreciate and reminisce about my childhood.

Seeker_Of_Knowledge-2 karma

I can search for all the technical information online but here is a question that I can't find online.

What is an interesting experience/event you had in your job?

Mikeyme19982 karma

I'm unfortunately not the best story teller, but point form short events I can do! And you can ask me to tell you more if any of these pique your interest!

  • When I spilled hydraulic fluid in both my eyes (around my safety glasses) while rewiring an engine. I've never been so afraid of losing a sense in my life (turns out it just dries the hell out of your eyes and turns them very red)

  • The first birdstrike plane that came into the hangar. Sure it LOOKED gruesome, but what I didn't expect was the SMELL...

  • When a ramp agent was trying to put out a GPU that had caught fire and accidentally sprayed purple-k (corrosive fire retardant) into both engines of a parked A320, forcing a dual engine change

  • Changing a wingtip navigation light on an Airbus A330 during high winds and in -40 without windchill. I really wanted that logbook sign off.

  • Riding my motorcycle home at dusk, on a road adjacent to one of the runways at my home airport, and 'racing' a plane I had just finished handing over to the pilot after a sizeable upgrade. I don't think I stopped smiling for about 2 days.

  • Having the entire shop see my flight simulator peripherals for my computer come in because I ordered them to the shop. I get teased to this day.

  • Doing a complete install on a Piper Navajo for a survey camera before realizing the STC was developed by an engineer who happened to be one of my middle school friends from a small BC town

Hopefully some of these made you smile or sounded interesting!!

EugeneKrabs1232 karma

If you work with people with aerospace engineering degrees (in Canada) are you able to provide a small range of what they make? As well as other aerospace connections you may have in Canada.

Mikeyme19981 karma

Glassdoor would probably be of more help than myself... I don't personally know any aerospace engineers, and really the only engineers I encounter would be the ones who help us develop STCs or provide them for installs, and maybe DARs who come to inspect a newly developed STC. Sorry I couldn't be of more help!

jetmech092 karma

Do folks in Canada spend $50k on avionics then balk at a $150 tire that's worn through the cord?

Mikeyme19981 karma

Some do and some don't, I've met both types. In my opinion the worst combo is a penny pinching owner, an experimental aircraft type, and an Amazon cart. I wish I was joking.

JuicyJew_4202 karma

don't know if you're still monitoring questions, but can you discuss the Autonomi automatic landing system?

Mikeyme19981 karma

Not in any capacity that is beyond what you can find online... I only recently heard about this technology and I'm currently not too concerned with knowing it, as it is not yet certified in Canada. If you're interested in hearing my opinion on it, I don't have many complex feelings as long as it passes Transport Canada certification and retains a safe track record. Autoland systems have been around for many years, but introducing them to G3000 flight decks (usually on smaller private jets) is pretty awesome. Anything that makes low visibility and complex approaches and landings easier, in my mind, keeps the passengers safer.

Otheus2 karma

Have you had any issues staying employed? I know with some of the big companies like Boeing it was boom or bust and they would lay off people in the bust times.

Mikeyme19982 karma

I was laid off from my previous employment with the national carrier in Canada when covid hit, but airlines are very volatile with their employment and lay-offs/recalls are commonplace. Private aviation sector has been booming in my experience, and I've never been concerned with losing my job at my current employer.

Itisd2 karma

How did you get started in this industry? Is it difficult to break into? I've actually considered pursuing moving into an avionics career... Coming from a electronics and mechanical background...

Mikeyme19982 karma

Not difficult at all! The caveat is you'll need to go to a technical school... BCIT, SAIT, and Canadore all have avionics specific programs and they'll get you well on your way. They start you from the ground up, so any electronics or mechanical background will give you a great advantage.

These schools also have open houses, so please reach out and see if it's something you'd be into! We need all the capable hands we can get.

14Three82 karma

Can a Garmin AP be installed on near any light sport/small acft (bar legal restrictions) or do AP systems have to be designed for specific frames?

Mikeyme19981 karma

The Garmin GFC500 and GFC600 is very very close to universal. Each aircraft install is different of course, but the GFC500 I know for a fact can be fit onto multiple types of Cessna, Piper, Mooney, Cirrus, and Beechcraft aircraft. Each type is different, but there are airframe specific kits and manuals that outline exactly how sheetmetal and avionics go about fitting and installing the autopilot system in its entirety.

ItsyaboiFatiDicus2 karma

How did you get into the industry? It's always something that has fascinated me but I have no clue how to get my foot in the door.

Alberta based if that helps.

Mikeyme19982 karma

I'm also in Alberta! There's really not much to it, it's a 2 year diploma course followed by 2 year apprenticeship with a company of your choosing. The best way to start is ask the schools about open houses! They'll give you a tour of their facilities and all sorts of info that you can use, plus you can talk to the instructors and get a feel for the industry. If you're in Alberta the two schools you'd most likely be looking at is SAIT (Calgary) and BCIT (Vancouver). I'm a graduate of SAIT so please if you have any questions, DM me and we can get more into details!

Desperate_Pay_13641 karma

I’m an AME like you, but i have an M license and not an E license like yourself. How do you feel about pay and benefits as an AME in Canada? Ever thought about switching trades for higher pay and better benefits or moving to the states for the same reason?

Mikeyme19982 karma

The pay is certainly not glamourous, unless you play your cards and get on with a big company and a good position. But even then, I've always thought that were underpaid for the work we do (the good ones) and the toll it takes on our bodies.

That being said, I've never questioned my career choice. I've wanted to be an avionics tech since I was old enough to walk, and I love my work more than a paycheck can say. I'm extremely privileged to have a wonderful fiance who allows us to have dual income, so we are both comfortable at the moment. That being said, if we ever did decide to uproot I have no doubt the earning potential of both her and I would play a part in where we decide to go.

fuckedbymath1 karma

You a what?

Mikeyme19981 karma

I put the magic smoke in the magic airplane boxes, and sometimes I let the magic smoke out and people send me home and I get a lotta emails

ColeWeaver1 karma

Can you make it possible for a beech 1900 to have a G1000 please and thanks? All our King Air are upgraded to G1000 but I'm flying around with tech from the 90s.

Mikeyme19982 karma

Our company actually just finished a contract for a G950 (G1000 without autopilot) on a 1900D! I don't know if a G1000 is in the cards, but the two systems are nearly identical besides the autopilot that is used

mojopyro1 karma

Are avionics and aviation electronics different in Canada? Seems odd to add that to your job description. I'm an AME (Aviation Mechanic, Egress) but I don't say I'm an AMERICAN AME. Asking for a friend

Mikeyme19981 karma

I'm sorry to say I don't fully understand the question. To answer the first part, avionics is aviation electronics. In fact I think some of the schools that teach it are changing the title to "aviation electronics" to clear it up with potential students.

mojopyro2 karma

I'm an aircraft mechanic. I know what avionics and aviation electronics are. I was being facetious about you qualifying your job description as a "CANADIAN" avionics tech.

Mikeyme19981 karma

Ohhhh ok, that makes sense. I figured I'd mention my nationality just because it's a completely seperate classification and license process as compared to M classifications here, so I felt it was important to avoid confusion

mitchanium1 karma

What was life like when Garmin global was malwared and held hostage?

Mikeyme19981 karma

I wasn't currently employed when this happened, but I will ask my coworkers and see what sort of impact it had on us!

Stringseverywhere1 karma

Can you always check your maintenance work without actually flying the plane? If no, do you board with the pilot and check the systems or do you fly it yourself?

Mikeyme19982 karma

A vast majority of systems can be tested on the ground using test boxes that simulate radio NAV signals, handheld VHF radios, and airspeed/altitude. Our test procedures are almost always included in the install documentation, so as long as we follow that we are allowed to let the plane fly as is.

That being said, autopilot and a number of other systems do need flight tests, and so at the end of most major installs we have a test procedure that we fly with the pilot who either owns or operates the aircraft.

I am not a licensed pilot, so I never get behind the controls. My boss is though, so occasionally he will taxi and perform engine run tests with us but its the owner who always does the final flight test. This also gives them an opportunity to ask any questions they might have for me, and get situated with the new system while the installer is there with them.

GanacheWeak68961 karma

Do you actually use your education or is it just avionics card swapping? Failt finding is a past years expertise as most systems have replacement cards nowadays or are under years long mfct contacted obligations.

Mikeyme19981 karma

I use my education every day, and I also use all of the on the job training I've gotten since day one of beginning my career. I did a lot of box swapping with the airliner, but in my job now I'm always challenged with troubleshooting, fixing snags, install decisions, and relying on my knowledge to complete my work. While box swapping is a part of my job, a lot of it is also finding damaged wiring, tracing pitot/static leaks, and understanding the software that this equipment is running and being able to configure it.

thegreatgramcracker1 karma

I worked in a field adjacent to yours under CAE, is that the same contractor you are working for? Maybe you can't share.

Mikeyme19982 karma

No, I'm not currently employed there. I'm with a small shop (15-20 guys) based out of Calgary. I'm not performing this AMA in conjunction with my company though, so I won't advertise or namedrop them here. If you are interested in the company I have it listed on my Reddit profile. Thanks for the question!

missmercuryvintage1 karma

Ketchup or All Dressed chips?

Mikeyme19982 karma

Chips make my stomach hurt. I'm a saltine cracker kind of dude, sorry to disappoint.

Corelianer1 karma

Which Airline crashes episode is your favorite and why?

Mikeyme19981 karma

Calling it my 'favorite' is kind of tough, but I always felt so affected by Alaska 261 (the MD83 that had the horizontal stab jackscrew strip itself off and completely free the horizontal stab). The sheer desperation of the pilots and the way by which the plane twisted and inverted is just heart wrenching. Having such a lack of control is just an awful thought. The whole maintenace crew in my first hangar always took the jackscrew greasing task card very seriously (not that others were completed otherwise) because a lot of them were alive and some even working during that disaster (that was very seriously maintenance caused).

Canadianacorn1 karma

Is being an Avionics Tech a career young people should be thinking about? What does an AVN Tech career look like these days?

(I just released after 23 years in the Army, and I spent a number of those years at recruiting talking up your trade. It would be great to hear an update on what those careers look like these days)

EDIT: I just realized that you are likely a civilian Avionics Technician, and not a military AVN Tech. My mistake!

Mikeyme19982 karma

Not a problem! I am in fact a civilian avionics tech. But I think any sort of aviation is something that people should be excited about! It's really quite a neat industry and the technology that we use is really fascinating to learn about.

KillaCawk2 karma


Mikeyme19981 karma

Go fly helicopters

financiallyanal1 karma

Do you work on the flight simulation side too? I believe there is overlap given how accurate sims are supposed to be.

Mikeyme19981 karma

I haven't. I've seen some job postings for it, but doing so doesn't count towards maintaining your avionics license and after a while it would fall off. Perhaps one day, but for now I'll stick to the real ones I think!

nwpsilencer-1 karma

Can you avionics guys hurry up and attach the antenna so us real men (structures) can finish putting up the gill liner?

Mikeyme19982 karma

I need a doubler first! Also can you prc them for me and drill the 7 screws I broke in the panel

nwpsilencer2 karma

You're going to need to pass me the panel. I got PRC all over my self, and am currently sealed to the inside of the hip tank. Damn SI crew left a bunch of shit in here too!

Mikeyme19982 karma

I tried taking the panel off but I stripped out the 3 screws that aren't broken and then I got a papercut so I'm going home early

nwpsilencer2 karma

Typical avionics, always finding some reason to go home when the hangar door is open for 20m before the plane gets towed out.

Mikeyme19982 karma

I guess being opportunistic is something they taught in the SECOND year of school....

nwpsilencer2 karma

Me bang rivet with metal, me no need even 1 year

Mikeyme19981 karma

Just make sure you wait until my ear is pressed to the airframe and you don't give me any warning k

Seems to be your guy's thing