Having 1300 hours teaching in Cirrus’ equipped with both the Avidyne and Perspective by Garmin, I’ve gotten to know both avionics suites quite well. I put together a pros and cons list for both systems for your educational purposes.
SIMPLICITY! The Avidyne PFD at first glance appears to be overwhelming, but in actuality, with a little quality instruction, it is quite user friendly. The MFD is nearly as easy and simple to navigate while producing the same information as the Perspective MFD. The checklist is easy to use and the pilot can scroll between the map and engine page with minimal attention.
REDUNDANCY! The Avidyne gets all COM, NAV and GPS information from it’s dual GNS 430’s (Newer Cirrus’ come equipped with WAAS) which I like better for both redundancy and ability to perform to different tasks on each 430.
Single AHRS. Unlike the Perspective, the PFD is a different unit than the MFD, limiting the Avidyne to only one AHRS. Not to worry though. In the event of a PFD failure in IMC, the Pilot can easily shoot a coupled GPS approach.
STEC55X. The autopilot is better than what most single engine airplanes come equipped with. However, it’s not as amazing as the GFC 700 which comes with the Perspective. The 55X is completely integrated with the PFD HSI and ALT/VSI bugs, has GPS steering mode, altitude capture via vertical speed, and will track both an ILS or WAAS glide slope. My biggest complaint with the 55X is the leveling phase of altitude capture. It will not hold a vertical speed all the way to you preselected altitude. Rather it will begin decreasing the rate of climb or decent as it approaches the desired altitude. This feature does make “Chop and Drop” approaches more difficult.
TECHNOLOGY! Garmin put more bells and whistles on the perspective system than anyone could ever ask for! Synthetic vision with color coded terrain, TCAS and “highway in the sky,” WAAS, Dual AHRS, VNAV, Jeppeson approach plates, IR camera, Full alpha-numeric keypad and a Digital autopilot that we’ll get to next.
GFC 700! This autopilot will do almost anything you ask. As long as you ask the right way and nicely. You can capture altitude via Pitch, IAS, Vertical speed or VNAV. (Setting a 120+ KT climb in the Turbo’s make life much easier) It rarely over shoots anything and will hold your desired Pitch, IAS, Vertical speed or VNAV all the way to the desired altitude. It’s easy to use (as long as you set it looking at top of PFD and not at the lights on the autopilot) and even has an auto-level button even though it is rare you should require it.
VNAV! On the flight plan page of the MFD, you can set a VNAV profile to cross a point in space at any altitude on a glide slope you set. For instance you can set up a 3 degree slope to the runway and fly your own WAAS glide slope to land. Every approach also comes preloaded with step down fix altitudes so you cross each fix at the appropriate altitude via a constant decent. Neat stuff.
Too much stuff! There is way too much going on with the PFD. It definitely has a wow factor and can come in handy (Like flying around Aspen night VFR.) But when I fly Perspective IFR I remove the synthetic vision and all that goes along with it. Prepare to be overwhelmed.
MFD navigation. Garmin increased the standard 4 chapters on the 430 and G1000. I much prefer the G1000 and early perspective 4 page navigation.
Overall both systems are fantastic and you will not be disappointed with either. Neither one is perfect but what is in aviation!