Trio Avionics, a manufacturer of autopilots for the Experimental-Amateur-Built(EAB) aircraft market, is working with the FAA and a team of industry leaders to develop an STC for its Pro Pilot Autopilot in the Cessna 172 and 182, with other certified, production models to follow.
Paul Odum, CEO of The STC Group, is leading the initiative to bring affordable autopilots from the EAB world to production airplanes.
“Trio’s Pro Pilot autopilot has a proven record of reliability in the amateur-built and warbird fleets. As such, the Trio Pro Pilot is an excellent off-the-shelf choice to retrofit into the legacy GA fleet based on its record of safety and reliability,” said Odum, who will own the STC for the autopilot.
The company is planning on developing the STC for most variants of the Cessna 172 and 182 from the earliest models through the 2006 models. STCs for additional makes and models will be developed later, company officials noted.
Trio was established in 2000 and has been delivering autopilots around the world for more than a dozen years with some 3,000 systems flying. The two-axis Pro Pilot model utilizes roll and auto-trim pitch servos to provide precise horizontal and vertical navigation capabilities. Altitude control includes climb and descent functions with altitude pre-select. Vertical navigation can be flown at pilot-selected speeds.
When connected to a WAAS-enabled GPS, Pro Pilot can fly the lateral and vertical portions of RNAV approaches and other procedures.
The digital autopilot also provides flight envelope protection, nudging the flight controls away from an overspeed or stall situation. An “automatic 180° turn” feature can guide VFR pilots out of inadvertent weather encounters — a feature that has been credited with saving lives in experimental aircraft, company officials said.
“As experimental aircraft builders, our primary design goal has always been safety of flight,” said Chuck Busch, Trio Avionics president and designer of the Pro Pilot. “We are especially proud that our Pro Pilot incorporates many safety features that are unique in the industry.”
The STC Group is seeking approval for the STC using a process similar to one the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) leveraged earlier in 2016 to earn approval to install a Dynon D-10 digital attitude indicator in a variety of light general aviation airplanes.
According to Odum, an autopilot STC is likely in the second half of 2017.