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Garmin offers helping hand

Smart Glide, announced July 21, is effectively a subset of Garmin Autoland, which was introduced in 2019 as the first member of a family of flight automation technologies collectively dubbed “Autonomí.” While Garmin Autoland is designed to take over for an incapacitated pilot and will, as the name implies, navigate the airplane to the nearest suitable airport, land, then shut down the engine, broadcasting emergency notifications along the way, Smart Glide requires active pilot participation. It is designed to help the pilot point the airplane in the right direction, minimize altitude loss in engine-out situations, line up the appropriate frequencies in standby, and create a shortcut to squawk 7700.

A free software update for Garmin GTN Xi series navigators paired with a compatible Garmin flight display will make Smart Glide available in August, Garmin noted in a press release. An optional activation button (list price $129) can be installed to initiate Smart Glide functions, though holding the Direct-to button for two seconds will do the same. Available features will then vary depending on what other Garmin avionics are installed. For example, weather information from sources including Flight Information Service-Broadcast, SiriusXM, and Garmin Connext can be factored into Smart Glide’s runway recommendations. Smart Glide can direct compatible Garmin autopilots such as the GFC 500 or GFC 600 to pitch for best glide and steer a course for the nearest suitable airport, though approach and landing will be up to the pilot.

Once activated, a map page displays glide range rings that dynamically adjust based on wind and terrain, along with current altitude above the ground, estimated altitude above the ground on arrival, and airport bearing and distance, while otherwise decluttering the map.

“Garmin continues to provide pilots with safety-enhancing tools through our Autonomí family of technologies that help simplify emergencies to reduce the workload required during these task-saturated and stressful situations,” said Carl Wolf, Garmin vice president of aviation sales and marketing. “We are so proud to continue to help make aviation safer with the introduction of Smart Glide, a monumental safety enhancement available to the thousands of fielded aircraft already equipped with the compatible Garmin avionics by automating tasks in an engine power loss emergency to help the pilot manage the situation safely.”

Garmin’s Smart Glide software upgrade was part of a flurry of news from the aviation giant that also reported supplemental type certificate approval of the GFC 600H flight control system for Bell 505 helicopters, and an update of the Garmin Pilot app for iOS devices that introduces graphical depiction of runway and airport closures on the dynamic map.

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