Garmin GFC 500 Digital Autopilot
Part No: GFC 500
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GFC 500 Digital Autopilot
The revolutionary GFC 500 autopilot brings unprecedented levels of capability, reliability and affordability to light single-engine, fixed-wing general aviation aircraft. GFC 500 leverages our advanced attitude-based flight control technology developed for the popular GFC 700 autopilot, which drives our most advanced glass flight deck systems
To help prevent incidents caused by loss of control, the FAA and other regulators encourage the use of key technologies, such as angle-of-attack indicators and autopilots, to help increase situational awareness, reduce pilot workload and enhance safety of flight. GFC 500 is the right product — at the right price — for certified light GA aircraft. Boasting a superior feature set, GFC 500 incorporates a number of safety-enhancing technologies, including Garmin ESP, underspeed and overspeed protection, automatic LVL mode, vertical navigation (VNAV) mode³, flight director (FD) command cues and more.
Garmin Digital Autopilot
Drawing on top-end Garmin flight control technology from our GFC 700, GFC 500 provides crisp, precise response and optimum performance over the entire airspeed envelope of your aircrcaft. Rather than depending on failure-prone mechanical gyros, the GFC 500 system is digitally controlled, using solid-state attitude and air data sensor reference — giving you ultra-smooth roundouts, intercepts and more while also enhancing the reliability of the system. Incorporating the highly adaptable GI 2751 electronic flight instrument, or our crisp, easy-to-read 3.5” G5 electronic flight instrument¹, a mode controller and “smart” servos, the autopilot’s architecture supports full pitch-and-roll axis control capabilities with optional pitch trim for automatic and manual electric trim. Additionally, yaw damper capability is optionally available for select aircraft models.
With the optional GAD™ 29 nav data adapter (not required with GI 275), GFC 500 will interface with modern Garmin navigators such as the GTN Xi series and legacy GNS (WAAS and non-WAAS) series navigators to fly a wide range of precision, non-precision and GPS-guided approaches as well as holds, procedure turns, missed approaches and more. GFC 500 also includes built-in GPS roll steering capability, which allows smoother navigation tracking and eliminates the need for external roll steering converters. Flight director cues are displayed as command bars on the GI 275, G5 electronic flight instrument, as well as optionally on a G3X Touch G500 or G500 TXi flight display². The command bars are always in view when the autopilot is doing the flying — and may also be used for visual guidance when you’re hand-flying the aircraft. With support for a remotely installed Takeoff/Go-around (TOGA) button, the flight director can be cued to automatically indicate and capture the correct pitch attitude required to fly a missed approach and then follow the missed approach procedure loaded in your compatible GPS navigator. Up to two GI 275 or two G5 electronic flight instruments1 can be interfaced with the GFC 500 autopilot in your aircraft, providing full reversionary display capability.
Mode Control at Your Fingertips
A mode controller is included with your GFC 500 package, and its compact size and mark-width design require only minimal space in your avionics stack while providing easy access to all autopilot modes and functions. You can select advanced lateral and vertical modes such as pitch hold, altitude preselect, altitude hold, vertical speed and indicated airspeed hold as well as roll, track and selected heading. An intuitive control wheel integrated into the GFC 500 mode controller allows for easy and precise pitch, vertical speed and airspeed adjustments, while separate knobs allow quick twist control of heading and altitude. For added safety, a dedicated LVL button on the controller lets you command the autopilot to automatically return your aircraft to straight-and-level flight — and thus help avert a potential loss-of-control situation.
Silky-smooth Servo Control
For maximum reliability and safety, the GFC 500 servos incorporate brushless DC motors and a gear train that eliminates the need for a mechanical slip clutch and shear pins. This design results in enhanced system efficiency — while also reducing maintenance/inspection requirements. The servos also provide virtually no control system friction with the autopilot turned off, decoupling the motor drives so you can easily hand-fly or override the system without fighting the controls. The servos weigh only 1.4 lbs each, making them more than 40% lighter than most other autopilot servos of their class. Each servo is operated by its own built-in microprocessor, which provides the “smart” logic to significantly improve sensor performance, response and self-monitoring capabilities — while simplifying overall system configuration and installation.
Hand-fly with Stability Protection
Any pilot who’s ever been startled to attention by a stall warning horn in a busy cockpit will appreciate the proactive stability augmentation of our ESP technology, which is standard on the GFC 500 system. When the aircraft is being hand-flown, this ESP feature functions independently of the autopilot — although it uses the same control servos — to nudge the controls toward stable flight whenever pitch or roll deviations exceed the recommended limits or underspeed/overspeed conditions occur. In the event of pilot incapacitation, after the system detects that it has been activated for a specified period of time, the autopilot will engage with the flight director in level mode, bringing the aircraft back to level flight and helping to avoid the onset of inadvertent stall/spins, steep spirals or other loss-of-control scenarios. Additionally, ESP can be manually disabled to allow for intentional flight maneuvers.
An Autopilot Knows Its Limits
With the autopilot engaged, GFC 500 also provides overspeed and underspeed protection. In a high airspeed situation — for example, if you’re descending and your aircraft is approaching VNE or VMO — the system will increase the aircraft’s pitch attitude, preventing a further increase in airspeed and potential structural damage. Likewise, at the other end of the speed spectrum, GFC 500 provides underspeed (stall) protection. For example, in the event the pilot does not immediately advance the throttle to full power, with the autopilot engaged while flying a missed approach sequence, the autopilot will help prevent an aircraft stall by reducing pitch attitude and provide the pilot with an “airspeed, airspeed” audible alert.
It’s a Total Peace-of-mind Investment
There is no substitute for a safe and vigilant pilot. But there are times when a “helping hand” at the controls can have a significant impact on the safety, comfort and enjoyment of your flight. Backed by a comprehensive warranty and the industry’s No. 1-rated product support team, our GFC 500 autopilot system is a price- and peace-of-mind breakthrough for pilots who want to add these valuable capabilities to their existing light piston GA aircraft. With supplemental type certification (STC) completed for a growing list of aircraft models, it’s easy to select an approved installation that meets your mission requirements and budget. See your authorized Garmin installation center for more details on configuring a GFC 500 autopilot system for your aircraft.
¹Requires compatible GI 275 or G5, sold separately.
²G500 TXi requires either a GI 275 or G5 (with GAD™ 29 adapter).
³VNAV mode requires GTN series or GTN Xi series navigator.
- Premium functions and advanced capabilities such as altitude pre-select1 and indicated airspeed hold mode; VNAV will be a growth function when appropriately equipped
- Pilots can select, couple and fly various instrument approaches, including GPS, ILS, VOR, LOC and back course approaches2,3
- Built-in GPS roll steering capability eliminates the need for external roll steering converters for smoother navigation tracking when installed with a compatible navigator
- Level Mode button, which automatically engages the autopilot to restore the aircraft to straight-and-level flight
- Underspeed protection helps prevent the pilot from stalling the aircraft if the autopilot is engaged in an inappropriate manner
- Overspeed protection helps prevent the pilot from exceeding aircraft maximum speed (VNE) if the autopilot is engaged in an appropriate manner
- With the addition of an optional yaw servo, Yaw Damping (YD) mode minimizes yawing oscillations while also helping to maintain coordinated flight by keeping the slip/skid indicator centered
- Flight Director command bars can be displayed on G5 with the GFC 500, while GFC 600 displays Flight Director on a variety of flight displays, such as G500 and G600
- Pilots can fly coupled ‘go-arounds’ during missed approach sequencing. A remotely-installed go-around button commands the Flight Director to display the appropriate pitch attitude required for the missed approach procedure and activates a loaded missed approach when paired with a GTN™ 650/750 navigator
- An optional pitch-trim servo adds automatic trim and manual electric trim
- Control wheel steering is available on GFC 600, which allows the pilot to adjust pitch, roll, altitude hold, vertical speed or airspeed references using the control yoke
2 GFC 500 requires a GTN™/GNS™ navigator or GNC® 255/SL 30 for navigation and approach functions.
3 GFC 600 requires an external navigator for navigation and approach functions; see installation manual for additional compatibility information.
Aircraft Models Currently FAA Approved for GFC 500 Installation:
- American Champion
- Models: 8GCBC Scout (metal wing spar equipped aircraft only)
- Aviat Husky
- Models: A-1, A-1A, A-1B, A-1C-180, A-1C-200
- Beechcraft Bonanza
- Models: C35, D35, E35, F35, G35, H35, J35, K35, M35, N35, P35, S35, V35, V35A, V35B, 36, A36, A36TC*, B36TC
- Beechcraft Bonanza/Debonair
- Models: 33, A33, B33, C33, C33A, E33, E33A, E33C, F33*, F33A, F33C*, G33*
- Beechcraft Musketeer*, Sport*, Sundowner, Sierra
- Models: 19, 23, 24
- Cessna 172
- Models: A*, B*, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, P, Q, R, S, F172E, F172F, F172G, F172H, F172K, F172L, F172M, F172N, F172P, FR172K, P172D, R172K
- Cessna 172RG
- Models: 172RG
- Cessna 175
- Models: A*, B, C
- Cessna 177
- Models: 177B, 177RG, F177RG
- Cessna 180
- Models: 180, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J, K
- Cessna 182
- Models: 182, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q, R, S, T, T182, T182T, F182P, F182Q
- Cessna 182RG
- Models: R182, FR182, TR182
- Cessna 185
- Models: 185, A, B, C, D, E, A185E, A185F
- Cessna 206
- Models: P206C, TP206C, U206C, TU206C, P206D, TP206D, U206D, TU206D, P206E, TP206E, U206E, TU206E, U206F, TU206F, U206G, TU206G, 206H, T206H
- Roberston STOL compatibility: U206F, TU206F U206F, TU206F, U206G, TU206G, 206H, T206H
- Cessna 210
- Models: 210D, 210E, 210F, T210F, 210G, T210G, 210H, T210H, 210J, T210J, 210K, T210K, 210L, T210L, 210M, T210M, 210N, T210N
- Cirrus SR22
- Models: SR20* SR22*
- Commander 112/114
- Models: Commander 112, 112A, 112B, 112TC, 112TCA, 114, 114A, 114B, 114TC
- Embraer Nieva (Brazil ANAC Approved Only)
- Models: EMB-710C, EMB-710D, EMB-711A, EMB-711B, EMB-711T, EMB-711ST, EMB-712, EMB-720C, EMB-720D, EMB-721C, EMB-721D
- Grumman (American General) AA-5 Series
- Models: AA-5 Traveler, AA-5A Cheetah, AA-5B Tiger, AG-5B Tiger
- Mooney M20
- Models: C, D, E, F, G, J, K, M, R, S (including 1962-1964 C, D and E Models)
- Piper PA-24
- Models: 180, 250, 260, 260B, 260C*
- Piper PA-28
- Models: 140, 150, 151, 160, 161, 180, 181, 201T, 235, 236 (and Overhead Trim Models)
- Piper PA-28R
- Models: 180, 200, 201, 201T
- Piper PA-28RT
- Models: 201, 201T
- Piper Twin Comanche
- Models: PA-301, PA-30B1, PA-30C1, PA-391 (including turbocharged models)
- Piper PA-32
- Models: 260, 300, 301, 301T, 301FT, 301XTC
- Piper PA-32R
- Models: 300, 301SP, 301HP, 301T
- Piper PA-32RT
- Models: 300, 300T
- Socata Trinidad
- Models: TB-20*, TB-21*
GFC 500 Certification Programs Currently In-progress:
(Subject to change.)
- Cessna 177
- Models: 177, 177A
- Piper Seneca
- Models: PA-34-200T, PA-34-220T
GFC 500 Certification Programs Planned to Begin in the Next 12-months:
(Not currently under development and subject to change.)
- Models: T-34 Mentor
- Cessna 170
- Models: 170B
- Cessna 172
- Models: 172
- Cessna 175
- Models: 175
- Cessna 180 and 185
- Robertson STOL compatibility: Cessna 180 and 185 models
- Cessna 210
- Models: 210-5, 210-5A
Questions & Answers
See below for answers to our most popular questions.
Will this work with a aspen 1000? In a Beechcraft debonair?
Unfortunately, the GFC does not interface with the Aspen system. You would need either dual Garmin G5s or dual Garmin GI 275s to get the full capabilities out of the GFC 500.
If you are interested in installation pricing, please reach out to our Install Sales Manager. Matt is available at (800) 474-9714 Ext 112 or by email at email@example.com.
I cannot find the exterior dimensions anywhere. I am replacing a King KX 155 that is 2.05 inches high
Outside dimensions are 6.25" width and 2.10" height.