Garmin has received FAA supplemental type certification (STC) for the GFC 600 digital autopilot in the Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain aircraft. Additionally, its Smart Rudder Bias is now certified for PA-31-350 aircraft equipped with the GFC 600 autopilot, further growing the list of compatible aircraft to offer this safety-enhancing technology.
The GFC 600 digital autopilot is intended for piston single/twin engine and turbine aircraft that have a wide range of speed and performance characteristics, and 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 600 provides superior autopilot performance, greater reliability and tremendous safety tools. In addition to traditional autopilot capabilities such as altitude hold, vertical speed and heading modes, the GFC 600 also includes:
- Premium functions and advanced capabilities such as altitude pre-select and indicated airspeed hold mode
- VNAV capability when paired with a GTN or GTN Xi series navigator
- Dedicated LVL button can automatically engage the autopilot to restore the aircraft to straight and level flight with one press
- Support for Smart Glide that can help automate tasks and reduce pilot workload in engine power loss events when paired with a GTN Xi series navigator and Garmin attitude indicator
- Underspeed and overspeed protection
- Select, couple and fly various instrument approaches, including GPS, ILS, VOR, LOC and back course approaches when paired with a compatible Garmin GPS navigator
- Yaw damping (YD) mode minimises yawing oscillations while also helping to maintain coordinated flight
- Electronic Stability and Protection (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 an appropriate flight attitude.
Part of the Garmin Autonomí family of autonomous flight technologies, Smart Rudder Bias provides pilots assistance against the hazardous effects of one-engine inoperative (OEI) events when the aircraft is appropriately equipped. The system continuously monitors engine parameters using engine indication system (EIS) data displayed on a G500 TXi or G600 TXi flight display and activates when the system detects a predetermined power differential between each engine. Once activated, rudder force is dynamically adjusted to aid a pilot in providing enough force to the rudder to help control a sideslip. A yellow annunciator for the associated inoperative engine is conveniently displayed along with autopilot annunciations on the G500 TXi or G600 TXi flight display, helping the pilot more quickly identify the issue.
Enhanced Garmin ESP settings for OEI conditions can help Smart Rudder Bias-equipped aircraft avoid potentially hazardous flight attitudes and airspeeds by tailoring these settings to help address the aerodynamic characteristics associated with OEI operations. Smart Rudder Bias requires a G500 TXi or G600 TXi configured as a primary flight display (PFD) with engine indication system (EIS) data, which can be shown as a strip on the G500 TXi or G600 TXi or on a separate dedicated TXi EIS display. Additionally, Smart Rudder Bias requires the yaw axis option be installed on the GFC 600.
The GFC 600 digital autopilot for the Piper Navajo Chieftain is available immediately through select Garmin authorised dealers. Garmin continues to add additional aircraft models to the growing STC list for the GFC 600 autopilot.