The imminent certification of several aircraft adds to the growing list of approvals for both autopilots. The Bonanza/Debonair (C33, E33, F33, G33), Cessna 210, and Grumman AA-5 series will soon be approved for the GFC 500 autopilot, while the Beechcraft Baron (58P, 58TC) and Cessna 208B will add to the list of the GFC 600, according to company officials.
In just under a year, Garmin has completed Supplemental Type Certifications (STC) on 10 popular aircraft models between both autopilots, with more aircraft approvals in progress and many more to follow, Garmin officials said.
The GFC 600 and GFC 500 autopilots provide thousands of existing fixed-wing general aviation aircraft with a simple, light-weight and cost-effective autopilot upgrade path, according to company officials.
Designed as a standalone autopilot, the GFC 600 also has integration potential with the G500 TXi/G600 TXi and G500/G600 flight displays, Garmin navigators, as well as a variety of third-party flight displays, instruments and navigation sources.
The GFC 500 and G5 will soon be able to pair with the G500 TXi or G500 flight displays, company officials note.
The GFC 600 is intended for high performance piston and turbine aircraft that have a wide range of aircraft speed and performance characteristics, while the GFC 500 is intended for less complex piston single-engine aircraft.
Both boast traditional autopilot capabilities such as altitude hold, vertical speed and heading modes, as well as the capability to fly fully-coupled GPS, ILS, VOR, LOC and back-course approaches.
Indicated airspeed climbs/descents, control wheel steering, as well as built-in roll steering add to the feature set.
Both autopilots contain a brushless DC motor and a gear train that eliminates the need for a mechanical slip clutch, offering “significantly improved performance and reducing maintenance requirements,” company officials said in a prepared release.
New to the GFC 600 & GFC 500, pilots can select the vertical navigation (VNAV) button on either autopilot mode controller to fly a fully-coupled VNAV profile when the autopilot is paired with the GTN 650/750 touchscreen navigators and the G5, G500 TXi/G600 TXi or G500/G600.
Within the GTN, pilots can enter altitude constraints on the flight plan page to set-up a vertical descent profile. Using VNAV, pilots also experience a near-seamless transition to an arrival and instrument approach as step-down altitudes are automatically populated, company officials explain.
When the GFC 600 and GFC 500 autopilot is fully-coupled on a VNAV descent, pilots receive the benefit of a smooth and controlled descent so they can focus on preparing for the approach to land.
Aircraft certified for the GFC 600 and GFC 500 autopilot include:
- Beechcraft Baron (58, 58A, 95-B55, 95-B55A)
- Beechcraft Bonanza (36, A36, A36TC)
- Cessna 182 (P, Q, R, S, T, T182, T182T)
- Cessna 340/340A
- Beechcraft Bonanza (S35, V35, V35A, V35B)
- Cessna 172 (E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q, R, S, F172F, F172G, F172H, F172K, F172L, F172M, F172N, F172P)
- Cessna 182 (E, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q, R, S, T, T182, T182T, F182P, F182Q)
- Piper PA-28 (150, 151, 160, 161, 180, 181)
The GFC 600 autopilot is available starting at a suggested retail price of $19,995 for a 2-axis autopilot with electric pitch trim. The GFC 500 starts at a suggested retail price of $6,995 for a 2-axis autopilot. The GFC 500 can be purchased with the G5 electronic flight instrument for a suggested retail price of less than $10,000. Installation costs are not included in the retail price.