Leading Edge consulted with a long-time customer with a Beechcraft Baron B55 who was looking for a more robust and long-term autopilot solution for his 47-year-old aircraft, with some very specific requirements and objectives. Our sales team quickly honed-in on the customer’s needs and selected the Garmin GFC 600 autopilot as the appropriate choice. Because the aircraft owner had an existing stack that was primarily Garmin, his confidence in the product was strong.
One of the primary challenges at the onset of the inquiry was that the AML STC list for both GFC 500 and 600 autopilots was still being developed. Having added the Baron B55, and with travel limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, now was the time to upgrade. An antiquated Century autopilot was currently installed in the aircraft and interfaced to Garmin’s G500 PFD/ MFD, GTN-750 and a GNS430.
The customer’s flight path is primarily along California’s mountainous, and often foggy, coastline. Workload reduction and reliability for single pilot IFR conditions are a necessity, as his home base is in Northern California and his work base in Southern California, which requires multiple trips each month.
After spending considerable time reviewing the customer requirements and desired outcomes, our top sales engineer recommended the Garmin GFC 600 autopilot which has seamless integration with the customers’ existing avionics stack - Garmin G500, GNS750, GNS430W, and GMA350.
There will be a significant reduction in cockpit workload when flying single pilot IFR. Added safety features with overspeed and stall protection. The now well-known ‘Blue Button’ adds additional safety to this aircraft which can aid passengers if the pilot ever becomes unresponsive. The basic functions of the autopilot are now smoother and more efficient due to a digital system interface. The maintenance will now be reduced by removing a problematic Century autopilot, keeping the customer in the air more often.
With modern digital avionics reducing cockpit workload, it makes sense to upgrade an autopilot that may soon not be serviceable. Garmin has brought the GFC 500 and GFC 600 into general aviation with a goal of safety and efficiency in mind. With a Garmin autopilot you will have most airline pilots envious of your aircraft. The customer called after returning home from the delivery flight thrilled with the results. “LPV approach was rock solid – flawless. Love the new system!”
The Garmin video on the GFC 500/600 autopilots is worth the 3 minutes.