Company Working to Bring non-TSO’d Autopilot to Certified Airplanes

Trio Avionics says an STC for its Pro Pilot two-axis autopilot in the Cessna 172 and 182 will be available next year.

Trio Avionics Pro Pilot Autopilot
Autopilot maker Trio Avionics is developing an STC for installation of its Pro Pilot autopilot in the Cessna 172 and 182.Trio Avionics

Trio Avionics, a California maker of autopilots for the Experimental-Amateur-Built (EAB) aircraft market, says it’s working with the FAA and its project partner to develop an STC that would bring its non-TSO’d Pro Pilot autopilot to the Cessna 172 and 182.

Other certified production models would follow after receipt of the initial STC, says Paul Odum, CEO of The STC Group, a new company formed to bring lower-cost autopilots from the EAB market to production airplanes.

“Trio’s Pro Pilot autopilot has a proven record of reliability in the amateur-built and warbird fleets,” Odum said. “As such, the Trio Pro Pilot is an excellent off-the-shelf choice to retrofit into the legacy GA fleet based on its record of safety and reliability.” He said the new company is planning on developing the STC for most variants of the Cessna 172 and 182 from the earliest models through 2006 models.

Established in 2000, Trio Avionics has delivered 3,000 autopilot systems to date. The two-axis Pro Pilot model, which sells for $3,000 in its current version for the EAB market, uses roll and auto-trim pitch servos to provide horizontal and vertical command capabilities. Altitude control includes climb and descent functions with altitude pre-select. Vertical navigation can be flown at pilot-selected speeds.

Trio notes that when connected to a WAAS-enabled GPS navigator, Pro Pilot can fly the lateral and vertical portions of RNAV approaches and other procedures. The digital autopilot also provides flight envelope protection, nudging the flight controls away from an overspeed or stall situation. An “automatic 180-degree turn” feature can guide VFR pilots out of inadvertent weather encounters — a feature that has been credited with saving lives in EAB aircraft, the company claims.

The Cessna 172 and 182 STC approval is expected by the middle of next year.