The NASA King Air 200

Just in case you didn't know, NASA stands for National Aeronautics & Space Administration.  NASA has sent scores of folks into space, to the moon and launched space ships to explore the galaxy.The NASA King Air  No doubt, to travel the distances the space vehicles do and carry people into space, one would expect they would be the Mecca of electronics.  In fact, NASA was the pioneer in many of the aviation electronics we use today.  Looking at the logo on the tail, it's obvious NASA has the keys to this nice King Air 200.  One probably would fantasize about the modern avionics that "must" be in the panel.  Heads up displays, zero/zero automatic landing system, TCAD V, TAWS 16, radar altimeters that are accurate within two centimeters.  While we can't see the panel in this picture, we know it's total glass and more blinking lights than a southern town at Christmas time. 

So, why is the aircraft in the Avionics West hanger you ask? Is it there for changing of a burned out light bulb or maybe inside for safe keeping?  Not really, you see, NASA has some of the best pilots I've ever been around but the avionics in their King Air 200's is dated.  They decided the old VHF-20 series Pro-Line just wouldn't cut it nowadays.  The old radar didn't show much, in fact a blind man had a better chance of spotting weather than the old radar did.  After months of stopping by the shop and playing with GNS530 and CNX80, they decided the trusty GNS530 was the way to go. 

Most of the old Collins Pro-Line avionics will be departing the pattern along with the radar.  Steve and the boys will be installing a new Honeywell RDR2000 color radar. Panel room is scarce even in a big aircraft like this 200; thus they elected to add the Garmin AT MX20 MFD to display the weather from the radar and the WSI.  Yes, two different weather systems will be aboard for pilots to aid in making the flight safer.  Speaking of safer, the MX20 has Terrain to aid in keeping the aircraft out of the dirt and the SkyWatch TCAD will help the crew from meeting other aircraft in the air.  The Garmin GTX330 Mode S transponder will go into the panel also.  Dual GNS530's will take up the rest of the room.  The autopilot flight director, ADF (yes they kept the thing), DME will stay in the aircraft.  To help with interfacing the modern equipment with some of the older equipment such as the RMI's two GAD42's will be installed.  The current audio system will remain in the aircraft due to the fact this King Air's audio system is better than anything else out there today.  

Now the question is, why did NASA pick Avionics West for their installation?  Bet you already know the answer to that.