Garmin 430 v. 480.

rarely post, but I have a favor/question to ask of the COPA community. My father has recently purchased a Cessna 421. The 421 is in need of a panel upgrade, but my father is not a pilot. He has asked me to make the decision whether he should go with a 430 or a 480. The only problem is, I have never flown an aircraft with a 480 installed. So, naturally, I am turning to the most informed aviation group I can find…COPA.
If any of y’all have flown with or played around with a 480, could you give me a brief pro/con list between the two boxes? I know that the 480 is WAAS certified, but was under the impression that Garmin was going to do a box or software upgrade for the 430s to make them WAAS certified. Other than that, I do not have any knowledge with which to make the comparison. I thank in advance anyone who can offer some insight. I can also throw in some beers and plane talk if anyone with knowledge is ever in or out of Atlanta!!! Seriously, any help would be greatly appreciated.

You are correct that Garmin will soon be certifying the 430’s for WAAS, and also ask a very tough question. The vast majority of COPA members will not have experience with the 480’s simply because somewhere near 100% of their flying is done in their Cirrus. Unfortunately, I fall into that category as well. I would love to spend some quality time with the 480’s in-flight, but there is no easy way to do that since there are not that many units out there.
That said, from what I have read about the 480, and what I know about the 430, I don’t think you will go wrong with either unit. Off the top of my head, some of the features that the 480 has over the 430 (besides WAAS) is intelligent victor airway flight planning, and maybe a little more refined looking user interface and bigger screen. Additionally, the 480 has an infrared port that UPS Aviation Technologies (formerly IIMorrow) incorporated so that your flight plan done on computer could be unlinked to the GPS with a future upgrade. I’m not sure whether Garmin will develop that interface further, but it would be pretty cool. What I think may happen is Garmin will fold 480 technology into the 430 and 530 and eventually do away with the middle box.

Personally, just for familiarity, I would probably choose dual 430’s and then supplement them with the Avidyne EX500 (nice and familiar as well). The Avidyne EX500 can even be interfaced with the Radar already installed on the aircraft.

With no MFD display, I think I would probably choose a 530 and a 430, which would give you a little more map screen real-estate (albeit less refined than the 480).

If installing a single unit, then I would probably go with a 530 or 430 because we already know they are easy to use, and I think their long-term viability is better since they are not “inherited” products. In the end, though, I think any of those units would be a great addition to the cockpit. [:)]

See Aviation Consumer, two different articles:

Mid-Price Upgrades Dec '04


Garmin vs. Garmin July '04

Hope this helps.