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More STCs issued for Garmin GFC 500 autopilotMore STCs issued for Garmin GFC 500 autopilot

Garmin announced the addition of numerous Beechcraft and Piper single-engine airplane models to the list of aircraft approved to use the GFC 500 autopilot and plans a Southeast and Midwest demonstration tour of a GFC 500-equipped Cessna 172 in April.

The FAA has issued supplemental type certificates for the autopilot that integrates with Garmin’s G5 electronic flight instrument for Beechcraft Bonanza S35, V35, V35A, and V35B models, and Piper PA–28-150/151/160/161/180/181 aircraft, Garmin said in an April 29 media advisory.

The new STCs extend the GFC 500’s approvals beyond the select Cessna 172 and 182 model STCs that AOPA reported in January, noting the important step the STCs represented in making less expensive non-TSOed systems available for legacy airplanes. More approvals are in the works.

The GFC 500 is priced starting at $6,995. The autopilot is intended for use in piston singles below 6,000 pounds. As a standard feature, pilots receive Garmin ESP, which works to assist the pilot in maintaining the aircraft in a stable flight condition. Garmin ESP functions independently, working in the background to help pilots avoid inadvertent flight attitudes or bank angles, and providing airspeed protection while the pilot is hand-flying the aircraft, Garmin said.

The GFC 500 mode selector provides dedicated knobs for heading and altitude selection and buttons for mode changes. Image courtesy of Garmin.

When the GFC 500 is integrated with the G5, the electronic flight instrument provides input and display of altitude preselect, heading, vertical speed target, airspeed target, and Flight Director command bars for the autopilot. An optional GAD29 adapter allows the GFC 500 and G5 to interface with select Garmin GPS or VHF navigators, Garmin said.

In addition to traditional autopilot capabilities such as altitude hold, vertical speed, and heading modes, the GFC 500 offers altitude pre-select and indicated airspeed hold mode.

Pilots can select, couple, and fly various instrument approaches, including GPS, ILS, VOR, LOC, and back course approaches.

Built-in GPS roll steering capability eliminates the need for external roll steering converters. A level mode button automatically engages the autopilot to restore the aircraft to straight and level flight.

Underspeed and overspeed protection help prevent the pilot from stalling the aircraft or exceeding aircraft maximum speed.

With an optional yaw servo added, yaw damper mode minimizes yawing oscillations while helping to maintain coordinated flight.

Pilots can fly coupled go-arounds during missed-approach sequencing. A remotely installed go-around button commands the Flight Director to display the appropriate pitch attitude required for the missed approach procedure and activates a loaded missed approach when paired with a GTN 650/750 navigator, Garmin said. An optional pitch-trim servo adds automatic trim and manual electric trim.

The Garmin GFC 500. Photo courtesy of Garmin.

STCs in the pipeline include the Grumman AA-5 Traveler, AA-5A Cheetah, AA-5B/AG-5B Tiger; Beechcraft Bonanza models C33, C33A, E33, E33A, E33C, F33, F33A, F33C, and G33; Cessna 210L, T210L, 210M, T210M, 210N, and T210N; Mooney M20s (models to be determined); and Piper PA–32 (models to be determined).

For more information about the GFC 500 autopilot and future certification programs visit the Garmin website.

In-flight demos

In April, Garmin experts will visit locations throughout the Midwest and Southeastern states, offering Cessna 172 demonstration flights of the retrofit autopilot solution “that brings unprecedented levels of capability, reliability and affordability to single-engine, fixed-wing general aviation aircraft.”

See the schedule for tour dates and locations (subject to change) during the month of April.

Topics: Avionics, Supplemental Type Certificate, Technology

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