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.