AEA Pilot's Guide 2018-2019 - 49

Garmin GFC 500

general aviation pilot in mind so upgrading to the new
system is easy for owners who are already using KFC
150 and KFC 200 autopilots," stated Jeff Kauffman,
senior product manager for BendixKing. "These
pilots can upgrade their flight computers with a new
touchscreen display and get an array of safety features
without having to install or replace the existing servos,
servo brackets or wiring."
In addition to keeping their current servos,
BendixKing will cover the legacy autopilot components
with a new two-year warranty as part of the AeroCruze
upgrade package.
Operationally, the AeroCruze is the first of the newgeneration autopilot options to feature a touchscreen
display. According to the company, the "glove-friendly"

BendixKing AeroCruze

color LCD display features dedicated controls for
frequent tasks.
"In addition to the ergonomic benefits of the
touchscreen, the AeroCruze's display gives pilots the
information they need to increase situational awareness
in flight," Kauffman said. "The upgraded system has
new safety features that help maintain accuracy and
stability throughout the aircraft's flight envelope such as
our level mode, vertical navigation, integrated altitude
pre-select and many others."
Kauffman also said that while the AeroCruze is
primarily a drop-in replacement for the BendixKing KFC
150 and KFC 200 autopilots, the company will offer it as
an upgrade path for aircraft currently flying with other
types of legacy analog autopilots.
Garmin GFC 500 and GFC 600
Garmin introduced two new autopilots at AirVenture
2017: The GFC 500 targeted for piston singles and
twins and the higher-end GFC 600 aimed for highperformance singles, twins and light turbine aircraft.
While the two systems are aimed at different segments
of the market, Mark Navratil, Garmin's senior aircraft

certification engineer for the GFC 600, explained that they
both came from the company's recognition of a need.
"We have dealers, customers and people here at
Garmin who are aircraft owners and know the pain
of having an older autopilot that is unreliable and
expensive to maintain," he said. "A big part of what
we're doing with the new autopilots is to provide a new
system that will be maintained 'on condition.' The servos
have no slip clutches, no shear pins; we use brushless
motors and there are no mechanical gyros."
Joe Gepner, staff engineer on the GFC 500, said
that while both systems have a long list of features,
particularly beneficial are underspeed and overspeed
protection.
"While old-generation autopilots will happily stall the
airplane for you, the GFC 500 and GFC 600 have builtin protection against that," he said. "At the top end, it
will do its best to keep you below Vne - and well inside
the performance envelope."
Complementing those features is Garmin's Electronic
Stability and Protection capability. "As you approach the
edges of the aircraft's normal operating performance
envelope while hand flying, servos will automatically
engage and apply force to push you back inside the
normal range," Navratil said. "There are no hard limits,
but it helps remind you of where you are."
Navratil also explained that compared to most
existing autopilots, both the GFC 600 and GFC 500
allow more extensive "gain tuning," which enables the
Garmin flight test engineers to optimize the autopilot's
performance for a specific aircraft type.
Another differentiator between the two systems is
again based on the performance of the target aircraft.
"The GFC 600 is TSO'd and meets the current DO 325
performance specifications - the current performance
standard for certified autopilot systems," Navratil said.
"It's rigorous testing, but it gives us the ability to take
the GFC 600 up into higher-performance turbine and
light jet aircraft."
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