Garmin has received FAA Supplemental Type Certification (STC) for several aircraft models for the GFC 500 autopilot, including a wide range of Cessna 172 and 182 aircraft.
Intended for less complex piston single-engine aircraft, the GFC 500 integrates with the G5 to provide pilots with an economical autopilot and modern flight instrument, according to Garmin officials.
The autopilot mode controller contains large dedicated keys and knobs, a control wheel that allows for easy adjustments to aircraft pitch, airspeed and vertical speed and a level button that returns the aircraft to straight-and-level flight, officials elaborate.
The GFC 500 servos also contain a brushless DC motor and a gear train that eliminates the need for a maintenance-prone mechanical slip clutch.
G5 provides input and display of altitude preselect, heading, vertical speed target, airspeed target and Flight Director command bars for the GFC 500. A GAD29 adapter allows the GFC 500 and G5 to interface with select Garmin GPS or VHF navigators.
In addition to traditional autopilot capabilities such as altitude hold, vertical speed and heading modes, company officials note the GFC 500 also includes:
- Premium functions and advanced capabilities such as altitude pre-select and indicated airspeed hold mode. VNAV will be a growth function when appropriately equipped.
- 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, allowing for smoother navigation tracking when installed with a compatible navigator.
- Level Mode button, which automatically engages the autopilot to restore the aircraft to straight and level flight.
- Underspeed protection helps prevent the pilot from stalling the aircraft.
- Overspeed protection helps prevent the pilot from exceeding aircraft maximum speed (VNE).
- Flight Director command bars can be displayed on the G5 with the GFC 500
- 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.
- An optional pitch-trim servo adds automatic trim and manual electric trim.
As a standard feature, pilots receive Garmin ESP with the GFC 500 autopilot, which works to assist the pilot in maintaining the aircraft in a stable flight condition. ESP functions independently of the autopilot and works in the background to help pilots avoid inadvertent flight attitudes or bank angles and provide airspeed protection while the pilot is hand-flying the aircraft, Garmin officials explain.
The company expects to further expand its list of aircraft models approved for the GFC 500 autopilot. Upcoming aircraft models include:
- Piper PA-28, expected the first quarter of 2018
- Beechcraft 35S/35V, expected the second quarter of 2018
For customers who already have a G5 electronic flight instrument, the GFC 500 for the Cessna 172 starts at a suggested retail price of $6,996 for a 2-axis autopilot. The GFC 500 can be purchased with the G5 electronic flight instrument for less than $10,000, officials report.