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Garmin introduces retrofit autopilots (GFC500 and GFC600)

This is a very big thing.

GFC 500 and GFC 600

Hopefully this will put S-TEC out of business, they deserve it. Avidyne were the first to do a retrofit autopilot but they don’t have servos so the DFC90 cannot be applied to a lot of scenarios.

Approval is quite involved for autopilots so there won’t be a cover-them-all AML like for the navigators. The first STCs are for the A36 Bonanza and B55 Baron.

Last Edited by achimha at 18 Jul 12:26

So one question out of curiosity. Previous attitude-based pilots wouldn’t fly rate-one turns, as they lacked speed / rate input. This unit has speed protection so obviously speed input. Is it reasonable to expect rate-based turns as well?

Yes, it is connected to the pitot static system, just like the Avidyne DFC90.

IAS hold mode is one of the best features of an AP and everybody who got this feature will never want to go back to a simpler autopilot.

Looks pretty expensive from my perspective to install in older airframes:

The GFC 600 autopilot has received FAA STC in the A36 Bonanza and B55 Baron for a suggested retail price starting at $19,995 and $23,995 respectively for a 2-axis autopilot with electric pitch trim. For customers who already have a G5 electronic flight instrument, the GFC 500 for the Cessna 172 starts at a suggested retail price of $6,995 for a 2-axis autopilot. The GFC 500 can be purchased with the G5 electronic flight instrument for less than $10,000. Initial STC for the GFC 500 is expected to be completed on the Cessna 172 in Q4 of 2017 with the Cessna 182 and Piper PA-28 aircraft series to follow.

Let’s see with what Trutrak, Tri and Dynon will come during Oshkosh. I understood that Trutrak will have with a full solution (at least 2 axis) for Cessna 172 for about USD5000.


The interesting part is that many G500 installations, for example in older Cirrus models, don’t have to use the S-TEC55X anymore, because the DFC90 could not be used. This also means that there’s a complete path for Cirrus pilots who want to swithc from Avidyne to Garmin.

It would also add the VNAV feature to older Cirrus planes that don’z have that feature.

Last Edited by at 18 Jul 13:08

Definitly good news! High time that there was some competition in this business.

To mandate the G5, well, ok, it may limit the market a bit as Aspen owners won’t be pleased, on the other hand, the G5 makes a mighty fine back up AD.

Now Avidyne needs to come up with a complete solution for their DCF90 otherwise if S-Tec – Cobham do go bust, they are in trouble. Even though I doubt that they will, as there is still a lot of market around for their lower products such as the System 30 e.t.c. Quite a lot of legacy airplanes with say old piper autocontrols e.t.c. also buy into their pitch channels.

LSZH(work) LSZF (GA base), Switzerland

So how does underspeed protection work on landing? Suppose you’re going to stall 50 cm above the runway – is the autopilot going to “nudge the stick forward” and make you land on the nosewheel?

Underspeed protection is just an aural warning — yet another female voice in the cockpit giving you instructions!

Usually it is connected to a flap position indicator to put it into landing mode.

Last Edited by achimha at 20 Jul 07:39

Depends on the system. Combined with EPS like in the newer Cirrus models it will push the yoke fwd, but not close to the ground and in landind configuration. A complete GFC500 installation (see description) has active envelope protection too.

It is only a voice in DFC90 installations when hand flying. When flying on A/P there’s also active protection, e.g. the A/P will lower the nose.

My reading of the prospectus makes me think of Airbus-style envelope protection (always on).

Which means you have to somehow wire the flap position into the GFC. Which without a canbus architecture sounds like another easy task to do…

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