New aircraft models approved for the GFC 500 autopilot include:
Beechcraft Bonanza/Debonair Models 33, A33, B33, C33, C33A, E33, E33A, E33C, F331, F33C1, and G331.
The GFC 500 autopilot integrates with the G5 electronic flight instrument or a combination of both the G5 and G500 TXi flight display to provide pilots with an “economical and modern autopilot solution,” 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 said in a press release.
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, officials added. ESP functions independently of the autopilot and works in the background to help pilots avoid inadvertent flight attitudes or bank angles and provides airspeed protection while the pilot is hand-flying the aircraft, Garmin officials explained.
In addition to traditional autopilot capabilities such as altitude hold, vertical speed and heading modes, the GFC 500 also includes:
- Premium functions and advanced capabilities such as altitude pre-select and indicated airspeed hold mode.
- Pilots can fly fully coupled descent Vertical Navigation (VNAV) profiles throughout the enroute and terminal phases of flight with a GTN 750/650 navigator.
- 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, 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).
- Pilots can fly coupled go-around 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.
- With the addition of an optional yaw damper servo, Yaw Damping (YD) mode minimizes yawing oscillations while also helping to maintain coordinated flight by keeping the slip/skid indicator centered.
For customers who already have a G5 electronic flight instrument, 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 not included).
In addition to these aircraft, Garmin is working on a GFC 500 STC for the F33A Bonanza and expects to complete that certification in the coming months.