Garmin announced today (March 15) that it has received FAA Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs) for its GFC 500 autopilot for select Robertson STOL-equipped Cessna 206 models and Piper Twin Comanche PA30B and Cs and -39s. The current list of aircraft models approved for retrofit with the digital GFC 500 spans 26 lines, with multiple variants included within each STC.
Designed for light piston single- and twin-engine aircraft, the GFC 500 autopilot is meant to interface with Garmin’s GI 275 or G5 electronic flight instruments; a combination of either a standby GI 275 or G5 electronic flight instrument interfaced to a G500 TXi flight display; or a G3X Touch flight display. The autopilot mode controller incorporates a control wheel that allows for “easy adjustment to aircraft pitch, airspeed and vertical speed,” according to Garmin, and the company’s Level Mode (LVL), which can direct the aircraft to straight-and-level flight with the push of a single button. Appropriately equipped aircraft can also use Smart Glide, which provides emergency landing guidance in the event of power loss in flight.
In addition to altitude hold, vertical speed and heading modes, the GFC 500 adds altitude preselect, VNAV3, and underspeed and overspeed protection. The autopilot can also couple and fly GPS, ILS, VOR, LOC and back course approaches when paired with a compatible Garmin GPS navigator.