Garmin has received FAA supplemental type certification (STC) for the GFC 600H helicopter flight control system in the AS350 B2/B3. The attitude-based (AHRS-derived) flight control system boasts a number of helicopter-tailored safety features, including attitude hold (ATT), Garmin Helicopter Electronic Stability and Protection (H-ESP), dedicated return-to-level (LVL) mode and hover assist, as well as overspeed and low speed protection. The GFC 600H requires the Garmin G500H1 or G500H TXi flight display and offers integration with compatible instruments and navigation sources.
With its advanced AHRS technology and redundant, cross-checking sensors, the GFC 600H provides inputs to help stabilise the helicopter while hand-flying. The stability provided offers significant workload reduction, says Garmin, and benefits helicopter operators by maintaining a commanded attitude. Designed with the pilot in mind, its cyclic-mounted trim controls allow for seamless interactions without taking a hand off the flight controls during basic operations, including system initialisation of ATT mode and adjustments of the pitch and roll trim. While flying with ATT, pilots can easily 'fly through' the flight control inputs for smooth manoeuvres beyond the preset trim condition.
Hover assist mode is capable of automatically detecting a hover condition and provides flight control inputs to help maintain position over the ground. With the optional yaw axis control, the GFC 600H will also hold heading while in a hover, and groundspeed hold2 allows the pilot to input a forward or sideways command, particularly useful during taxi and take-off.
H-ESP helps the pilot remain within a safe flight envelope when hand-flying the helicopter. It works in all modes, even when the system is not engaged, and can be manually disabled to allow for manoeuvring flight. There is also a dedicated level mode that can be engaged by the pilot to return to straight-and-level flight, helping to avoid a potential loss-of-control scenario.
For enroute and approach navigation, the system uses guidance from a compatible Garmin navigator to automatically fly approaches and search and rescue patterns. Additional vertical and lateral modes include altitude hold, altitude select, vertical speed, indicated airspeed and heading select.
The GFC 600H features a stack-width mode controller with push-button controls and a night vision goggle (NVG) compatible display. Its robust architecture supports a three-axis configuration to provide the features and handling characteristics needed for a helicopter. Integrated smart servos provide pitch and roll inputs as commanded by the system, and the available third servo and collective sensor provide yaw axis control capability and smooth flight control adjustments when the pilot moves the collective. Digitally controlled, high-torque servos allow for faster, crisper and more powerful response.
The GFC 600H is expected to be available later this month through select Garmin dealers.