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Garmin gets STC for GFC 500Garmin gets STC for GFC 500

Garmin announced Jan. 3 that it has obtained supplemental type certification for several aircraft models for its GFC 500 autopilot, geared toward lighter general aviation aircraft. The initial STC covers select Cessna 172 and 182 aircraft.

Announced in July 2017 as a non-technical standard order autopilot, the stand-alone GFC 500 can use the Garmin G5 attitude indicator as its navigation source. A GAD29 adapter allows the GFC 500 and G5 to interface with certain Garmin GPS or VHF navigators, the company said.

The GFC 500 mode selector provides dedicated knobs for heading and altitude selection and buttons for mode changes. The heading can also be changed via a knob on the G5 attitude indicator. Image courtesy of Garmin.

The GFC 500’s traditional functions include altitude hold, vertical speed, and heading modes. Garmin ESP is included as a standard feature. ESP functions independently of the autopilot and works to assist the pilot in maintaining the aircraft in a stable flight condition while the pilot is hand-flying the aircraft.

Other safety features include a Level Mode button, which automatically engages the autopilot to restore the aircraft to straight-and-level flight. Over- and underspeed production help prevent the pilot from stalling the airplane or flying faster than never-exceed speed.

AOPA has long supported an initiative to make available less expensive non-TSO’d systems for legacy airplanes. Products previously limited to experimental and light sport aircraft began to arrive on the market in 2016, first with the introduction of the Dynon D10A attitude indicator replacement, quickly followed by the Garmin G5. AOPA President Mark Baker praised the collaboration between the FAA and the aviation industry, stating that the cooperation would pave the way for installing modern systems in certified airplanes. “These cost-effective new products will bring new vibrancy, safety, and reliability to the GA fleet,” Baker said.

Since then, Garmin, TruTrak Flight Systems, and The STC Group have introduced lower-cost autopilot systems. TruTrak’s Vizion received STC approval in July 2017 for installation in Cessna 172s and 177s. Also in July, The STC Group announced STC approval for its Trio Avionics Pro Pilot autopilot kit for the Cessna 172, 175, and 182. AOPA’s Sweepstakes 172 took advantage of the new offerings to modernize its panel with two G5s and a Trio Pro Pilot autopilot.

The suggested retail price of the GFC 500 for a Cessna 172 equipped with a G5 starts at $6,996 for a two-axis autopilot.

Garmin said it expects to expand the list of approved aircraft models, with the Piper PA-28 series slated for the first quarter of 2018, and the Beechcraft 35S/35V anticipated in the second quarter of 2018. Additional models are anticipated for the STC list. To suggest certification for other aircraft types, contact Garmin’s sales department and provide specific aircraft make and model information.

Jill W. Tallman

Jill W. Tallman

AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who is part-owner of a Cessna 182Q.
Topics: Avionics, Technology

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