Garmin’s Retrofit Autopilot STCed for Additional Aircraft Models

The Garmin GFC 500 can be retrofitted into a variety of single-engine piston airplanes. Garmin International

Garmin is bringing safety enhancing capabilities to legacy aircraft models with the approval of its GFC 500 retrofit autopilot STC. The Olathe, Kansas-based company added the Grumman AA-5 series airplanes, which include Traveler, Cheetah and Tiger models, as well as the 140-horsepower Piper PA-28 to the list. The GFC 500 is also available for many Cessna 172 and 182, and Piper PA-28 models, as well as four Beechcraft Bonanza models: S35, V35, V35A and V35B. Additional Bonanza/Debonair models, Mooney M20 models and the Cessna 210 should be added to the list soon, followed by more legacy single-engine piston Cessnas and Pipers.

The GFC 500 was first introduced last year and is designed for light, single-engine piston airplanes. The GFC 600 was developed for high performance pistons and turbine aircraft. Both systems integrate with the G500 and G600 glass panels, Garmin’s navigators and other flight displays. The autopilots can also be used with Garmin’s recently introduced, low-cost G5 electronic flight instrument. The autopilots are not compatible with the G1000 system, which uses the GFC 700 autopilot.

In addition to flying a selected altitude, vertical speed and heading, the autopilots have a level mode, underspeed and overspeed protection, Electronic Stability Protection and much more. When used with navigators, the new autopilots can fly a variety of instrument approaches.

The cost for the autopilots vary greatly depending on the type of airplane and avionics installed. Starting price for the GFC 500 is $6,995 while the GFC 600 starts at $19,995. Click here for a list of approved aircraft for the GFC 500 and GFC 600.

Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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