Garmin has received FAA supplemental type certification (STC) for the installation of the GFC 500 digital autopilot in the Piper Seneca PA-34-200T and PA34-220T II-V models, marking the second certification of the GFC 500 in a twin engine aircraft. The GFC 500 digital autopilot is intended for light piston aircraft while delivering superior in-flight characteristics, self-monitoring capabilities and minimal maintenance requirements when compared to older generation autopilot systems.
The GFC 500 autopilot uniquely integrates with Garmin's GI 2751 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 to provide pilots with an economical and modern autopilot solution. The autopilot mode controller contains large, dedicated keys and knobs, as well as a control wheel that allows for easy 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, GFC 500-equipped aircraft can take advantage of Garmin Smart Glide, a safety-enhancing tool that helps pilots in an engine power loss event by automating certain tasks and helping to reduce pilot workload.
The full-featured GFC 500 autopilot 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 500 provides superior autopilot performance, greater reliability and additional safety tools that are similar to those featured on the popular GFC 700 autopilot. In addition to traditional autopilot capabilities such as altitude hold, vertical speed and heading modes, the GFC 500 also includes altitude preselect, VNAV, 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 to a safe flight attitude.