Garmin International received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) approval for the GFC 500 autopilot in select Piper PA-24 Comanche aircraft. The GFC 500 autopilot is intended for light piston aircraft and provides in-flight characteristics, self-monitoring capabilities and relatively low maintenance needs when compared to older generation autopilot systems.
The GFC 500 autopilot certification for select PA-24 aircraft includes the following models: PA-24-180, PA-24-250, PA-24-260, PA-24-260B and PA-24-260C1.
The GFC 500 autopilot uniquely integrates with the 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. Garmin explains the autopilot mode controller contains large dedicated keys and knobs, a control wheel that allows for adjustment to aircraft pitch, airspeed and vertical speed, and a Level Mode (LVL) that returns the aircraft to straight-and-level flight with the push of a dedicated button.
In addition to traditional autopilot capabilities, such as altitude hold, vertical speed and heading modes, the GFC 500 includes altitude preselect, VNAV2, a dedicated LVL button, 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.
As a standard feature of the GFC 500, pilots receive Garmin Electronic Stability and Protection (ESP), which works 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.