Garmin to Put Autoland, Autothrottle on Select King Airs

The retrofit kit for the emergency landing system is the first on a twin turboprop.

The Garmin Autoland system for the King Air 200 is targeted for those aircraft modified with the G1000 NXi integrated flight deck. [Courtesy: Garmin]

Four years ago, Garmin Aviation was going through the final stages of the certification process on its first installment of the emergency landing system, Autoland, on the Piper M600. In the intervening time, the avionics OEM and its airframe partners have secured approval on two single-engine turboprops—the Piper and Daher TBM 940—and the single-engine Cirrus Vision Jet. Garmin’s also in the process of working on Autoland in its first twin jet—Honda Aircraft’s HondaJet Elite II.

But its latest impending approval? Garmin announced on Wednesday that certification is “imminent” on a new retrofit kit for certain Beechcraft King Air 200s. While not technically the first retrofit package for Autoland—that honor goes to the upgrade offered by Daher for certain previously delivered 940s—it marks the first supplemental type certificate provided by Garmin directly to the aftermarket.

Initial approvals will be for King Air 200s that have the Garmin G1000 NXi integrated flight deck STC. After approval on the 200 series is secured, Garmin will pursue the nod on similarly equipped King Air 300s as well. 

“Bringing Garmin Autoland and Autothrottle to the Beechcraft King Air, and for the first time to the aftermarket, is a tremendous step toward transforming the general and business aviation fleet with safety-enhancing autonomous technologies,” said Phil Straub, Garmin executive vice president and managing director, aviation. “The G1000 King Air retrofit program was launched in 2007, initially on the King Air C90, with now over 800 G1000 retrofits in the King Air fleet. We are pleased to provide these operators an upgrade path to Autoland and Autothrottle, demonstrating our deep commitment to developing and continually supporting G1000 and our customers that have trusted us with this investment in their aircraft.”

The flight testing involved for the King Air STC has been significant for Garmin, according to Dan Lind, senior director of aviation sales and marketing, first in the complexity of the twin turboprop as compared to a single but also owing to the fact the King Air weighs twice as much as an M600, or Vision Jet, or TBM 940. FLYING will be taking a closer look at Autoland in action on the King Air next week during EAA AirVenture.

Autothrottles Also a Big Deal

A major improvement to the well-loved King Air, Garmin’s Autothrottle retrofit kit will also be available to fully integrate with the G1000 NXi. The autothrottle installation will provide automatic control of the engine via the power levers, maintaining their proper position for the phase of flight. The autothrottle will also help the pilot manage engine-out situations, setting the power lever on the side of the failed engine to a fixed point and adjusting the lever on the operating engine appropriately.

Together, the features bring significant safety upgrades to the King Air line, which continues to soldier on as a workhorse of choice across private and corporate fleets around the world.

Based in Maryland, Julie is an editor, aviation educator, and author. She holds an airline transport pilot certificate with Douglas DC-3 and CE510 (Citation Mustang) type ratings. She's a CFI/CFII since 1993, specializing in advanced aircraft and flight instructor development. Follow Julie on Twitter @julieinthesky.

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