Garmin GDL 39 3D adds backup attitude

2 min read

Garmin’s GDL 39 has been one of the best-selling ADS-B receivers since it was introduced at Oshkosh in 2012. It combines a WAAS GPS, subscription-free ADS-B weather and dual band ADS-B traffic in a single unit, and has proven to be very reliable. We’ve flown with it extensively and can recommend it as a great way to make your Garmin Pilot app a lot more powerful. In addition to its compatibility with iPads and Android tablets running Garmin Pilot, the GDL 39 can also be connected to portable GPSs like the 796 and aera 500.

Garmin Pilot app with attitude

Garmin Pilot’s popular split-screen panel page now shows an attitude indicator when connected to the GDL 39 3D.

About the only feature the GDL 39 lacked was a built-in Attitude Heading and Reference System (AHRS) for backup attitude. Other ADS-B receivers like the Clarity and Stratus include an AHRS, and pilots have come to appreciate this “worst case” backup function. To answer that request, Garmin has just introduced the GDL 39 3D.

The GDL 39 3D is the same size and shape as the original GDL 39, and works almost exactly the same–so there’s no need to re-learn how to operate your tablet. But in addition to the moving map, traffic and weather information that was previously available, attitude information is presented on Garmin’s popular panel page. The panel page can be viewed as a split screen in the app, which makes for a really polished and intuitive presentation.

Just remember that, like all ADS-B receiver/app combinations, the information is for backup use only. The speed and altitude indicators, for example, show GPS data, not actual pitot-static data. Still, in a true emergency, this split screen moving map and panel page could very well be a life-saver. The attitude indicator updates multiple times per second, so it’s smooth.

The GDL 39 3D is available for $849 or $899 with a snap-on battery pack. Garmin also reduced the price of the original GDL 39 to $599 without AHRS and $649 with a battery.

Note that attitude information cannot be displayed on portable GPSs, only iPads and Android tablets. Full compatibility chart is below:

GDL 39 3D compatibility chart

10 replies
  1. Chuck Wood
    Chuck Wood says:

    We should put pressure on Garmin to allow us to upgrade our GDL 39 (which some of us just bought within the last year) to the GDL 39 3D for a “small” fee…..I’m willing to spend a few hundred dollars.

  2. Doug Schoen
    Doug Schoen says:

    My AI suggested that I sell my 9 month old unit for a reduced price and purchase the 3D version,

    Garmin should consider an upgrade program.


  3. Thomas Williamson
    Thomas Williamson says:

    Wow I was about to press BUY, until I realized that AHRS didn’t work on the 796. I guess there is some issue of compatibility, but it would have been really neat to have made it work on the 796. TW

  4. Chuck Miller
    Chuck Miller says:

    Agree, there should be some type of upgrade path for those of us who helped validate the market by buying early and at the high price point….

  5. Tigerphan
    Tigerphan says:

    The iPad/iPhone have triple axis digital internal gyroscope that the 796 doesn’t have. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t work with it. AHRS I mean.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] last month we shared Garmin’s latest hardware update, the GDL 39 3D, an ADS-B receiver that includes an Attitude Heading Reference System (AHRS) for backup attitude. […]

  2. […] Attitude Information: Garmin’s new GDL 39 3D ADS-B receiver now includes an integrated attitude/heading sensor (AHRS), and the latest version of the app allows […]

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