The Nicest Piper Warrior Ever

1981 Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II

The Finished Panel
The Finished Panel

Aircraft & Owner:

The Piper Warrior is a variant of the Cherokee lineup with an upgraded engine and higher payload. Like many other Warrior owners, this customer is a general aviation pilot and uses their aircraft to fly around for pleasure. Since purchasing this aircraft, the customer has determined this will be their “forever” airplane. With that level of commitment, investing in upgrades to make it exactly what he wanted makes even more sense. Before coming to Maxcraft, the customer had invested in a one-of-a-kind premium interior, along with a JPI electronic engine analyzer.

The Original Panel
The Original Panel


Coming to us with a mostly stock panel, our customer wanted to make this Warrior both future proof and make his aircraft as safe as possible. This would have to require a modern electronic flight display, GPS, and a capable digital autopilot system. To match his new interior, our customer also wanted to make sure the rest of his aircraft has the same premium look and feel across the board.

No upgrade today would be complete without adding ADS-B capability. To ensure this installation was future-proof we installed a top mounted transponder antenna, and routed coax to the transponder to make an upgrade to diversity as simple as removing the old transponder and installing a diversity capable unit in its place. With NavCanada likely implementing a mandate for ADS-B diversity out in certain airspace it is likely this will be a mandatory upgrade within the next decade; however you can keep up to date with the status of ADS-B in Canada by signing up for our newsletter.


G500 TXi Integrated Flight Display with SVT (Garmin)
GI275 Backup Electronic Flight Instrument/Multi-Function Display (Garmin)
GFC 500 Digital Autopilot With Trim (Garmin)
GTN 750Xi Touchscreen Flight Navigator and Multifunction Display (Garmin)
FlightStream 510 Wireless Cockpit Connectivity (Garmin)
Smart Glide Switch Dedicated Smart Glide Switch (Garmin)
GMA35C Remote Mounted Audio Panel(Garmin)
GNC225 VHF Navigator and Communicator (Garmin)
GTX345R Remote Mounted ADS-B In/Out Transponder (Garmin)
ELT 345 406mhz Emergency Locator Transmitter (Artex)
GSB 15 USB Charging Ports (Garmin)
Piper Control Wheel FAA-PMA replacement yoke (Avion Research)
MaxPanel Custom All-Metal Upper and Lower Instrument Panels (Maxcraft)


The aircraft on it’s first test flight
The aircraft on it’s first test flight

Maxcraft Solution:

The centerpiece of this installation is Garmin’s beautiful G500TXi 10.6” touchscreen primary flight display. As Garmin’s top offering for general aviation aircraft, the G500TXi brings almost every piece of information the pilot may need to one central place. Replacing the traditional six-pack, the G500 TXi displays all the relevant flight data such as airspeed, attitude, altitude, and so on, along with being pilot configurable to either use the entire display for the PFD, or split it into two, to have a multifunction display directly in front of the pilot. Pairing perfectly with the G500 TXi ecosystem is Garmin’s GTN 750Xi, which will become the primary GPS, VHF nav and comm, and a multifunction display. The GTN 750Xi also brings Garmin’s Smart Glide to this aircraft. A dedicated switch will ease the workload of the pilot during an engine failure by automatically showing how to pitch for best glide speed, a range ring to show how far they can glide, and displaying which airports are within gliding distance while accounting for current winds. As the primary navigator, the GTN 750Xi was also paired with the FlightStream 510 which brings wireless connectivity to the GTN. This will allow for easy transfers of flight plans from Garmin Pilot or ForeFlight, along with wireless database updates.

A Maxcraft Technician Running Wires
A Maxcraft Technician Running Wires

With modern avionics being as reliable as they are, the chance of an inflight failure is slim to none. However, for added safety next to the G500 TXi is Garmin’s 3-1/8” standby electronic instrument. In the event of a failure of the G500, the GI 275 will automatically take over as the pilot’s primary flight instrument allowing them access to critical in-flight data. This fancy touchscreen display is not only used in emergencies. When not in use as a flight instrument, the GI 275 acts as a small formfactor multifunction display making it perfect for displaying traffic, weather, or a moving map.

One of the greatest safety enhancements you can add to an aircraft is a digital autopilot, and Garmin’s GFC 500 is one of the best available for GA aircraft today. Garmin’s GFC 500 digital autopilot was designed from the ground up for general aviation aircraft, while still including many features which were once only available in the latest generation of airliners. Offering precise and smooth in-flight control, the GFC 500 is much more than just an autopilot. Even if the aircraft is being hand-flown, the built in monitoring the GFC 500 will automatically guide the aircraft back towards safe flight conditions if it begins exceeding the aircraft’s recommended limits, such as an overspeed or underspeed. Connecting with Smart Glide, the GFC 500 will automatically maintain the best glide speed when enabled.

With Wires Seemingly Randomly Placed to the Untrained Eye, This Sight is Sure to Stress Any Aircraft Owner Out
With Wires Seemingly Randomly Placed to the Untrained Eye, This Sight is Sure to Stress Any Aircraft Owner Out

Acting as a secondary navigation source, and comm, the GNC225 will allow the pilot to easily pick up ATIS without going off frequency or monitor and communicate on a second frequency. The GNC225 also brings peace of mind knowing you’ll still be able to communicate and navigate in the rare chance the GTN750Xi experiences an inflight failure. To save on panel space, Garmin’s GMA35C was installed behind the panel on top of the GTN 750Xi. The GMA35C streamlines cockpit communications by adding audio panel controls to the GTN750Xi.

ADS-B in and out capability was added by installing the Garmin GTX345R. With diversity on the horizon, we added a top-mounted transponder antenna, and coax required to feed it during this installation to same time and money when the time comes in upgrade. Doing this now eliminates the need to remove the interior once again to install the antenna. When the time comes to add diversity, all that’s required is removing the GTX 345R, and installing Garmin’s GTX 345DR (The D denoting diversity).

Back on the topic of safety, an Artex ELT 345 will make this Warrior compliant with the 406mhz ELT mandate. Automatically activating in a crash, the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) will transmit the aircraft’s precise location to a network of satellites which will then be sent the search and rescue crews massively decreasing the search area.

The one addition to this aircraft that truly makes it a cut above the rest is our MaxPanel custom upper and lower instrument panels. Custom designed and fabricated for this aircraft, our MaxPanel looks even better than the day this Warrior rolled off the assembly line. Matching fonts across the panel makes every label, and placard easy to read, while also being aesthetically pleasing. With a colour Piper logo above the callsign, it’s impossible to mistake what type of aircraft you’re in. While the avionics are top of the line, the panel found in this Warrior is what sets it apart from the rest and is sure to turn heads every time it’s seen.

The New Yokes Include Many Switches Bringing Frequently Used Functions Closer to the Hand
The New Yokes Include Many Switches Bringing Frequently Used Functions Closer to the Hand

Some smaller quality of life improvements included the installation of a second GSB 15 USB charger. This brings the total ports up to four, with one of them being USB type-c. The new yokes from Avion Research really will make hand flying this Warrior a dream. With plenty of room for us to install switches, the pilot will easily be able to adjust the autopilot trim, and with a 4-way hat switch the pilot can change frequencies, mute the traffic alerts, replay ATC transmissions, and activate the push to command function.

Customer Comments:
“I would like to express my appreciation for the high level of customer service and product installation of the Garmin suite of avionics in my Piper Cherokee Warrior II.The finished product is a pilot’s dream come true! It has totally transformed my flying and cockpit experience. The new panel has raised my level of situational awareness exponentially and I feel the intuitive nature of the instruments make the “buttonology” very easy to operate.Maxcraft’s team from start to finish made the upgrade project seamless and enjoyable. From the initial consultation to the flight test and final sign off, I was impressed by their team’s level of professionalism and their attention to the finest of details. They managed this project like it was their very own aircraft and this gave me the confidence that I made the right decision in selecting the industry’s leader in avionics. A big thank you to the entire team at Maxcraft!”

Mark Sorrey


Customer Photos: