Russell Still, MCFI
The Garmin 400-series of GPS receivers includes
variants of the 400, 420, and 430 models. Taken
together, they have become the most popular
panel-mounted GPS in aviation. In this
when we speak of the 430, we are really speaking
generically of the entire 400-series line.
Garmin 430 (400-series) has become so wildly popular
with pilots primarily due to the clarity of its
display screen and its well-designed user interface.
The button functions have become standard across the
400-series, 500-series, and even into the
revolutionary G1000 system. Pilots who learn the
"buttonology" and chapter/page layout of the 430 will
find transitioning to the 530 or G1000 systems to be
capability was first introduced into the 430 in
2006. Making this capability more obvious, Garmin
upgraded the name of the unit from GNS 430 to GNS
430W. Earlier units are software upgradeable for
The GNS 430 is a
three part avionics package that includes a
communication radio, a navigation radio (referred to
as VLOC), and a GPS receiver. The database is
updated by Jeppesen every 26 days and resides on a
slide-in card in the unit’s left side.
Controls on the
unit’s left side are used to operate the radios.
Controls on the right side (and the buttons below
the screen) are used to operate the GPS functions.
The 430 displays
dozens of screens. New users may become disoriented
until they get comfortable navigating through them.
The maze of display screens are best thought of in
terms of a book containing chapters and pages within
the chapters. Thus, each screen that is shown is a
page in a particular chapter.
There are four basic
NRST. The name of the
current chapter is shown in each screen at the
bottom right. Adjacent to it will be a series of
boxes. These indicate how many pages exist in the
current chapter. One box will be white. This
indicates which page of the chapter is currently
shown. In the image above, the second page of the NAV
chapter is displayed. Understanding this layout and
being able to instantly know “where” you are (in
terms of chapter/page) is crucial to the use of the
At the bottom left
and right of the unit are two pairs of concentric
knobs. These can also be a source of frustration for
new users until they learn which knobs do what. The
knobs on the left are used to tune the radios and
the knobs on the right are used in a wide variety of
GPS functions. It is easy to learn the left from the
right – the confusion comes in when a choice must be
made between the outer or inner concentric knobs.
First, think of the
knobs not as outer or inner, but as large or small.
Next, consider that the large knob makes relatively
large changes and the smaller knob makes smaller
In terms of the
lefthand radio knobs, the large knob changes the
frequency numbers to the left of the decimal. The
small knob changes the numbers to the right of the
decimal. Thus, the large knob changes the (larger)
whole numbers and the small knob changes the
(smaller) decimal fractions.
The righthand knobs
control a lot more options. One of their main
functions is to dial in the letters in airport and
other waypoint names. Since the 430 does not have an
alphabetic keyboard, the knobs are used to select
letters and numbers. In this type of operation, the
large knob moves the cursor and the small knob
rotates through the alphabet allowing you to select
a letter or number.
During flight, most
of your time will be spent in the first two pages of
the NAV chapter. We’ll refer to these as NAV/1 (CDI)
and NAV/2 (moving map).
The six fields shown
below the CDI in NAV/1 can be changed from their
defaults by pressing the MENU button. The default
layout, however, is a good choice.
In the NAV/2 page,
there are several ways you can change what you see.
map through four stages with the CLR button.
fields on the right on/off using the MENU
button, “Data Fields” option.
fields on the right using the MENU button,
“Change Fields” option.
Change the data
that is displayed in the map based on how it is
zoomed with the RNG button. You will want to do
this. Use the MENU button, “Setup Map” option.
Buttonology for a detailed description of
all of the Garmin 430 controls.