There’s never been a better time to equip your aircraft with an autopilot. A new digital autopilot offers safety, accuracy and reliability unheard of in legacy autopilots. Digital attitude sensors and brushless DC servos replace gyros and heavy analog servos providing long-term reliability and substantial reductions in maintenance costs.
Both Garmin and Genesys/S-TEC have engineered systems for both small and high-performance aircraft that are less expensive making them an investment well worth considering. The safety features in these digital autopilots provide protection for going outside normal flight envelopes even with the autopilot turned off and help prevent what are considered to be the cause of most fatal accidents in General Aviation – loss of control.
Systems to consider are Genesys/S-TEC’s 3100 and Garmin’s GFC 500 and GFC 600. The Genesys 3100 is rate-based and uses rate of turn rather than attitude to base commands used in legacy autopilots. The 3100 provides envelope protection – detects unusual attitudes and responds to correct them and has a straight and level button. It provides fully coupled approaches that are WAAS and NAV-based.
The Garmin GFC 500 and GFC 600 are designed for specific categories of aircraft. The GFC 500 is meant for light, low performance to mid-performance singles and provide 2 axis control with an optional pitch trim. Yaw damp is available in some models. The GFC 600 is meant for high-performance singles, twins, and turbines. Features include altitude hold and capture, airspeed hold, vertical speed hold, and NAV and heading tracking. Garmin’s ESP – Electronic Stability Control provides envelope protection for unusual attitudes such as overbanking, over-speed, and under-speed with or without the autopilot engaged.
Both systems integrate with Garmin systems as well as many other manufacturers systems and are available for many Cessna, Piper, and Beechcraft aircraft. Give us a call to see if your model is included!