Garmin has secured FAA supplemental type certificate (STC) approval for its GFC 500 autopilot, with the retrofit now available for installation on Piper PA-28-201T and -236, and PA-32-260 and -300 models. The GFC 500 was purpose-built for single-engine, piston airplanes, and specifically targets those models that have antiquated original autopilots and can benefit from the technologies now possible in a modern autopilot.
The GFC 500 covers all of the typical autopilot functions, and adds many that are particularly well-suited to its integration with the Garmin G5 electronic flight instrument and/or the Garmin 3X Touch or G500 TXi multifunction displays. These include altitude preselect and airspeed hold; coupled VNAV descent profiles (with a GTN 650/750 navigator); general instrument approach coupling; built-in roll steering for improved smoothness, Level mode, underspeed and overspeed protection; and coupled missed approaches and go-arounds.
An optional pitch trim servo adds automatic trim and manual electric trim, and an optional yaw damper servo can minimize yaw oscillations, particularly in turbulence. For those who already own a G5 electronic flight instrument, the GFC 500 starts at a suggested retail price of $6,995 for a 2-axis autopilot. The GFC 500 can be purchased with the G5 electronic flight instrument for a suggested retail price of less than $10,000.