Garmin Offers IFR Flight Control System for Helicopters

The new version of the GFC 600H helicopter autopilot provides four-axis control for the first time.

Garmin announced that its GFC 600H flight control system for helicopters is available in an IFR design with a stability augmentation system (SAS). The new version includes collective control, giving the GFC 600H four-axis capability for the first time.

Leonardo Helicopters’ AW109 Trekker is the first model to use the system with the new capabilities. The company said the enhanced version helps improve overall mission effectiveness by decreasing the pilot’s workload.

“We are very excited to now offer a four-axis, IFR flight control system for the helicopter market,” said Carl Wolf, Garmin’s vice president of aviation sales and marketing. “This technology will provide IFR operators with advanced automated flight capabilities and bring added protections to one of the most challenging flight categories in aviation. We’re confident AW109 Trekker operators will be impressed with the performance of GFC 600H.”

The GFC 600H includes a console-mounted, push-button mode controller and display compatible with night vision goggles. High-performance digital servos and new linear actuators that Garmin developed provide crisper, more powerful responses than previous systems, resulting in smooth handling in all phases of flight.

The new system supports a range of autopilot modes, including altitude acquire, altitude hold, heading select, attitude hold, approach auto-level, radar height hold, vertical speed, and indicated airspeed. The system also can fly approaches using inputs from navigation systems.

Garmin said its system’s smart servos eliminate the need for two linear actuators and flight control computers for each axis. The result is a lighter, cost-effective system that retains the redundancy needed for IFR flight.

The IFR configuration of the GFC 600H has received European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approval on the AW109 Trekker helicopter. Garmin said it expects FAA approval later.


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