Garmin Gains STC for GFC 600 Autopilot in Piper Navajo Chieftain

The avionics company continues to add mode legacy aircraft to its certification list.

Piper’s PA-31-350 is the latest aircraft certified to use the Garmin GFC 600 autopilot. [Credit: Shutterstock]

Availability of popular Garmin (NYSE: GRMN) autopilots in the general aviation aftermarket continues to expand to a growing range of older aircraft. The company said it has received an FAA supplemental type certificate, or STC, for the use of its GFC 600 digital autopilot in the Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain.

The GFC 600 is designed for piston singles and twins, and turbine models with a broad range of performance. Garmin said the high-performance unit is more reliable and offers more features than many other autopilots.

In addition to familiar functions, such as altitude hold, vertical speed, and heading modes, the GFC 600 also includes altitude pre-select, indicated airspeed hold mode, underspeed and overspeed protection, vertical navigation, a dedicated LVL button to automatically engage the autopilot to restore straight and level flight, and more. The GFC 600, when accompanied by certain additional avionics, can give older aircraft many features associated with new models.

The company also said its Smart Rudder Bias (SRB) system is now certified for PA-31-350s equipped with the GFC 600 autopilot. SRB is meant to aid pilots of twin-engine aircraft when one of the engines fails.

The system monitors the engines and adjusts rudder force to help the pilot control a sideslip when it detects a predetermined power differential. A yellow annunciator for the inoperative engine is displayed to assist the pilot in identifying the failure.

The GFC 600 digital autopilot for the PA-31-350 is available now through select Garmin authorized dealers. The company continues to add aircraft models to its STC list, which also includes certifications expected to take effect in the next 12 months.

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get the latest FLYING stories delivered directly to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter