Garmin said the “GFC 500 autopilot provides a long list of existing general aviation aircraft with a simple, lightweight, cost-effective autopilot upgrade path. Incorporating solid state attitude with robust self-monitoring capabilities, the GFC 500 provides superior autopilot performance, greater reliability, and invaluable safety tools that are similar to those featured on the popular GFC 700 autopilot.”
In addition to traditional autopilot offerings like altitude hold, vertical speed, and heading modes, the GFC 500 also includes a leveling mode, which returns the aircraft to straight-and-level flight; altitude preselect; underspeed and overspeed protection; and when appropriately equipped, vertical navigation.
Aircraft equipped with a GTN Xi navigator can also take advantage of Garmin’s Smart Glide feature, which automates tasks to reduce pilot workload during an engine failure. The Smart Glide feature requires a GTN Xi navigator.
Garmin’s Electronic Stability and Protection (ESP) comes standard to “assist the pilot in maintaining the aircraft in a stable flight condition. ESP functions independently of the autopilot and works in the background while the pilot is hand-flying the aircraft to help avoid inadvertent flight attitudes or bank angles by nudging the pilot to return the aircraft back to a safe flight attitude.”
The GFC 500 is designed to integrate with Garmin’s GI 275 or G5 electronic flight instruments, a combination of either a standby GI 275 or G5 interfaced to a G500 TXi flight display, or a G3X Touch flight display “to provide pilots with an economical and modern autopilot solution.”
To help pilots get the most out of the GFC 500, Garmin is launching the GFC 500 Essentials eLearning course. “The course will highlight the features and functionality of the system and allow pilots to take part in scenario-based example flights where they will have the opportunity to interact with the system as the scenario progresses. Pilots will also learn about the autopilot design, GFC 500 system components, as well as optional components that provide for expanding the functionality of the system.”
The GFC 500 starts at $7,870 and can be purchased from an authorized Garmin dealer. Garmin will continue to add aircraft models to the supplemental type certificate list. Pilots can view the most current STC list as well as certifications that are expected, on Garmin’s website.