Garmin recently received Supplemental Type Certification (STC) for its GFC 500 digital autopilot system. This certification now extends its application to several other aircraft, including the Cessna 177/177A Cardinal, Beechcraft T34A/T34B Series, and the Piper Seneca PA-34-200T and PA34-220T II-V models. This marks the second time the GFC 500 has been certified for use in twin-engine aircraft.
Just last month, the FAA awarded an STC to Garmin’s GFC 600 digital autopilot in Beechcraft King Air F90 aircraft.
The GFC 500 is designed for light-piston aircraft. It offers advantages such as heightened self-monitoring features and significantly reduced maintenance needs compared with older generations of autopilot systems.
The GFC 500 autopilot integrates with Garmin’s GI 2751 or G5 electronic flight instruments. Pilots can pair it with either a standby GI 275 or G5 electronic flight instrument interfaced to a G500 TXi flight display or a G3X Touch flight display.
Its mode controller comes equipped with large, dedicated controls that facilitate effortless adjustments to aircraft pitch, airspeed, and vertical speed. The Level Mode (LVL) feature enables pilots to swiftly revert the aircraft to straight-and-level flight via a dedicated button.
Another highlighted feature is the Garmin Smart Glide. In the event of engine power loss, this function aids pilots by automating certain tasks, effectively reducing pilot workload and enhancing safety.
“The full-featured GFC 500 autopilot provides a long list of existing general aviation aircraft with a simple, lightweight, cost-effective autopilot upgrade path,” according to Garmin.
“In addition to traditional autopilot capabilities, such as altitude hold, vertical speed and heading modes, the GFC 500 also includes altitude preselect, VNAV, underspeed and overspeed protection and more. Pilots can also select, couple and fly various instrument approaches, including GPS, ILS, VOR, LOC and back course approaches when paired with a compatible Garmin GPS navigator.”