Garmin has announced it is flight testing its GFC 500 autopilot on the first light twin aircraft, the PA-30/39 Twin Comanche. Designed for light piston aircraft, the digital GFC 500 includes self-monitoring features and requires far less maintenance than “older generation autopilot systems,” according to the company. “As Garmin continues to roll out GFC 500 autopilot supplemental type certification (STC) approvals at an increasing rate, spanning more than 200 aircraft models to date, the Twin Comanche marks the first light twin aircraft currently in [the] certification [process].
Installing the GFC 500 in light twins will necessitate using Garmin’s GI 275 electronic flight instrument to provide ADAHRS input. The installation can also interface with Garmin’s G500 TXi flight displays when the GI 275 is used as a standby attitude indicator. The autopilot also includes Garmin’s Level Mode (LVL), which returns the aircraft to straight-and-level flight “with the push of a button.”
Traditional autopilot features, including altitude hold, vertical speed and heading modes, are joined in the GFC 500 by advanced capabilities such as altitude preselect, VNAV2, underspeed and overspeed protection and more. The system also supports select coupled instrument approaches, including GPS, ILS, VOR, LOC and back course procedures, as long as the autopilot is paired with a compatible Garmin GPS navigator.