Before answering, let's make short peek into the past and answer few basic questions and then everything will be more clear.CFIDave wrote:Since this seems to be directed at me, I'm merely questioning the economics that would permit a manufacturer to provide a software-only upgrade for an 11+ year-old aircraft running discontinued avionics. What's the business model for this that would allow the manufacturer to recover its development costs?
First of all, let's clarify who is the most responsible for current situation. Obviously it's the one who owns STC. So, even if Garmin wanted to support owners of "discontinued avionics", it wasn't possible in any way, neither by providing new versions of software nor offering hardware upgrades.
Second, how we ended with 11+ year old software and hardware? Simply by Diamond's systematically neglecting existing customers and offering only new aircraft. The only possibility for upgrades were extremely expensive with long down times and even then usually not offering all features available to new aircraft. E.g. first GFC700 or retrofit GFC700 don't have all capabilities of new one or later on this upgrade became available only with AE300 engines upgrade which was initially offered for €120k, then for €250k and recently for ridiculous €400k or so. Today we witness that WAAS upgrade is practically impossible.
Third, if Diamond hadn't immediately stopped supporting owners of DA42 TDI aircrafts (switching completely focus to new AE300 based aircrafts and new sales), maybe we would have ended with some more recent version of G1000 software or even new hardware at competitive pricing. However, Diamond chose what they chose and this can't be changed - it's a past very well known to any DA42 owner.
I don't know how much you know about software development but I've been doing it all my life, since the dawn of computers, including development of embedded software. Development of software for G1000 definitely is not simple and easy task. But if you have the version running on new hardware supporting management of external devices (engines, autopilot, transponder, radios etc.), how hard it can be to develop version supporting management of different set of devices (e.g. different engines) on the same (new) hardware? Or to develop branch of it based on old hardware delivering features that can be delivered taking into account limitation of old hardware. Of course, I can't provide exact answer but I can assure you that we don't talk here about millions of dollars, it's not even a million of dollars but significantly less.
Diamond can choose to put some effort and make competitively priced package of avionics upgrade (or just a software upgrade if possible) and enable authorized shops to perform this upgrade. It's not necessary to recover everything invested in such effort in money received from customers. Some funds will be recovered via new customers acquiring based on assurance in good customer support in future. This can be treated as investment in marketing and sales.
However, Diamond can choose to do nothing and increase the base of unhappy customers which definitely doesn't help in advertising and increasing business. Maybe we're small in numbers but GA in total is small and new sales in this GA segment doesn't have dramatical rise. I can assure you that if a company neglects one segment of its customers sooner or later it will neglect the others as well. You just have to wait on your turn.