So long GPSMAP 496, Hello aera!

Dan Johnson, president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, is an expert on Light Sport Aircraft.

Over the years, Garmin has become a staple of LSAs. Stick your head inside the cockpit of virtually any SLSA and you’ll probably see a Garmin 296, 396, 496, or 495. The handheld gizmos are ubiquitous, often nestled securely in panel-mounted Air Gizmo docks. However, the great run of the X96 series is flying off into the sunset.

The LSA industry’s main man at Garmin, Tim Casey, sent the following as his answer to my inquiry about plans to discontinue the GPSMAP 495/496. Casey’s reply shows how our modern age of e-mail, Internet, and mobile devices has hastened communications. He wrote, “I Googled ‘GPSMAP 495/496 discontinued’ and sure enough, before the ink is dry on our Marketing Memo, it is public information.”

“We have been letting our LSA partners know about the eventual demise of the 495/496 for some time…giving them time to redesign for the 695/696 or aera series, which many have done or are now in the process of changing,” he continued.

For many who have become intimate with the GPSMAP series, this means you need to learn some new input methods. Certainly the aera has a different user interface. I happen to prefer it, but many know the 496 so well they may have to get out aera’s manual.

Many LSA providers are already installing the larger screen 696, but I think plenty will adapt to the aera, which economizes panel space and has a simple touchscreen interface. Aera also works as an auto GPS unit. In fact I’ve used mine that way frequently, even tapping its Bluetooth link to place hands-free phone calls via my iPhone.

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