Flying - - Sky Next -

At long last, Garmin is sell­ing retro­fit autopilots. The new GFC 500 and GFC 600 autopilots in­cor­po­rate many of the safety-en­hanc­ing fea­tures of the for­ward-fit GFC 700 au­topi­lot, in­clud­ing Elec­tronic Sta­bil­ity and Pro­tec­tion (ESP), un­der­speed pro­tec­tion, straight-and-level but­ton, flight di­rec­tor and more, bring­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties from the new­est high-per­for­mance pis­ton air­craft, tur­bo­props and jets to a wider range of air­planes.

The GFC 600 has been de­signed with higher-per­for­mance air­planes in mind, and can be paired with Garmin’s retro­fit avionics sys­tems and GPS nav­i­ga­tors. En­vi­ron­men­tally hard­ened au­topi­lot ser­vos mean the sys­tem can han­dle harsh en­vi­ron­ments in­clud­ing ic­ing con­di­tions. It’s avail­able for the Beech A36 Bo­nanza ($19,995) and B55 Baron ($23,995).

The lower-priced GFC 500 au­topi­lot, mean­while, is in­tended for bud­get-con­scious avi­a­tors fly­ing less-ca­pa­ble air­planes. It must be paired with a Garmin G5 flight dis­play, which is the brain that con­trols it. Pric­ing starts at $6,995, and it can be pur­chased with a G5 dis­play for un­der $10,000. Ini­tial STC for the GFC 500 is ex­pected in the Cessna 172 be­fore the end of the year, with the Cessna 182 and Piper PA-28 mod­els to fol­low.

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