There’s a new wave of avionics available for the Meridian, and I’m beginning to see them appear on the market more and more frequently. As most know, I’m a big fan of the G500/G750 combination in the PA-46 fleet, and many of the more market-desirable birds have this installation.
A quick history lesson…the early Meridian’s had Meggitt Avionics, and although serviceable and acceptable, the market really does not like Meggitt Avionics. I don’t like Meggitt because they are usually not WAAS enabled, and I think WAAS approach capability is almost required in a Meridian. It’s just too nice an airplane to not have avionics commensurate with the rest of the airplane.
Then, Piper installed Avidyne Avionics. This was a big improvement, but it still did not allow for WAAS capability, and still leaves limited room for upgrades to the GPS due to limited panel space (only a G430W/G650-sized GPS can be installed). And, the upgrade to WAAS for the autopilot costs a LOT. With the G1000 Meridian that first came out in 2009, the avionics evolution of the Meridian was complete. But a LOT of Meridian’s were built prior to 2009, and most lack a good avionics package.
Recognizing the lack of good avionics in Meridians and a possible business opportunity, Cutter came out with the G950 for the Meridian. This is a really nice installation, but at nearly $200k, the wallet gets hit pretty hard. Here’s an Article I wrote about the G950.
Then, someone (I don’t know who) came up with the idea of installing two Garmin 500’s and two Garmin 750’s and rip out most of the Meggitt Avionics. The installation is really nice, totally functional, and has the appearance of a “glass cockpit”. And, the overall cost is much lower than the G950. So, to retrofit an early Meridian, there is now a good inexpensive (comparatively) option.
The Meridian in the video above is SUPER-nice and I grew to like the avionics installation. The G750 presentation is crystal-clear, and the G500 is not bad either. The Meggitt engine displays are still used, and the quality of the presentation is clearly lesser when compared to the excellence of the Garmin displays, especially when viewed side-by-side. But, the engine parameters are easily seen on the Meggitt displays. Although important, the engine parameters are not viewed with the same frequency as other displays, and I found the Meggit engine displays very suitable.
All-in-all, I highly recommend the G500/750 in the Meridian. Clean, neat, adaptable, and WAAS capable. If you see one of these on the market, be sure to check it out closely. It is a really nice installation that turns the earlier Meridians into complete airplanes.