Garmin’s latest smartwatch for pilots, the D2 Mach 1, is loaded with all the advanced features you’d expect from an industry-leading avionics company: GPS, moving map, pulse oximeter, altimeter, fitness tracking, and smartphone notifications. But the watch also is another node in Garmin’s Connext platform, which ties together multiple devices in the cockpit, from iPad apps to panel avionics.
In a previous article, we showed how the Garmin D2 Air X10 smartwatch (the baby brother of the Mach 1) can connect to the Garmin Pilot app for flight plan sync. The Mach 1 supports that feature as well, but adds some other tricks. Here’s what it can do.
In an emergency—engine failure, smoke in the cockpit, passenger medical issue—time is of the essence. The D2 Mach 1 can save you time in that situation, with one-touch access to nearest airport information. Simply press and hold the top right bezel button for about five seconds to activate Emergency Mode. No matter what screen you’re on, the watch will show the nearest airport with a large arrow and distance to the runway. You’ll also see glide information to help you plan your arrival, and it’s instant since the airport database and GPS are built-in.
If your watch is connected to your phone or tablet, the D2 Mach 1 goes one step further. After pressing the button, Garmin Pilot will also enter Emergency Mode, which presents a delcuttered map view and highlights nearby airports. You can tap on an airport for distance and course, plus read important airport details. Tap the direct button to navigate to it.
In the screenshots below, you’ll see Garmin Pilot in Emergency Map mode (left), which shows the airplane’s glide range ring, and the pop-up menu for Connext (right), which shows the status of connected devices.
The D2 Mach 1 can also connect to Garmin’s popular inReach satellite communicators, for the ultimate in emergency support and connection. To set this up, you’ll want to add an inReach glance to the watch. A glance is a quick-access feature that can be found by swiping up from the main watch face. You can add a glance from the Garmin Connect app, the free app that serves as a link between your watch and the internet when you’re on the ground. From the main Connect screen, tap on your watch at the top right, then Appearance -> Glances -> inReach. Now you’ll be able to access this quickly from your watch.
After pairing, you can press START to selection an option: initiate SOS (which should only be done in an emergency), new message (to create a custom text message), or send preset (to quickly send a message you composed on your phone or tablet before flight). The last option is the easiest from a watch, and is great for simple updates on ETA. The SOS option sends a distress signal through the Iridium network, which will alert search and rescue services.
For more complicated messages, it’s best to pair the inReach to Garmin Pilot. This creates a dedicated messages page in the app, and makes it easy to type a custom message.