Garmin has announced a surprise certification milestone for the G5 flight display designed as a digital replacement for vacuum-driven instruments in old general aviation aircraft.

“For all aging aircraft out there that didn’t think they could afford a glass cockpit, this changes everything,” says Jim Alpiser, director of aviation aftermarket sales for Garmin.

When Garmin revealed the 3.5in panel in late-March, it was expected the G5 could not be certificated until a proposed reform of the US Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 23 regulations was approved.

But the company’s experts and FAA regulators agreed over the last three months on a supplemental type certificate for the G5 to be used only as a primary attitude or turn indicator.

The G5 can now replace either of those vacuum tube-based instruments in general aviation cockpits, Alpinser says.

The device also can be used as a secondary, non-certificated display for a variety of other functions, including speed, altitude and GPS track.

The partial certification of the G5 comes as the FAA continues to push traditional regulatory boundaries in an effort to make safety-enhancing equipment available in general aviation cockpits.

Two years ago, the FAA approved consensus-based standards for a low-cost angle of attack indicator, eliminating a requirement for a more costly certification process as a technical standard order.