Garmin Shocker: Inexpensive Retrofit Autopilots For Wide Range Of Planes

Discussion in 'Avionics and Upgrades' started by BrianNC, Jul 18, 2017.

  1. BrianNC

    BrianNC Pattern Altitude

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    Avionics giant shares details of program for light aircraft of nearly every description
    By Robert Goyer

    With the announcement of its latest product for the used market, Garmin has done the seemingly impossible. It has once again changed the face of the retrofit avionics industry. The two new products, the GFC 500 and GFC 600 are intended for two separate classes of airplanes, the 500 for light low-to-mid performance singles and the 600 for high-performance singles and twins, including turbines.

    Both autopilots will have an impressive range of capabilities, including just about every feature of the popular GFC 700, including altitude hold and capture, indicated airspeed hold and vertical speed hold, plus nav and heading tracking. In addition, they will feature ESP envelope protection functions, which protect the plane from a variety of potentially unsafe flight scenarios, including overbanking, overspeed and underspeed protection, along with having Garmin’s Straight and Level button, which the pilot can push to return to a straight and level attitude to avoid an emerging loss of control.

    The autopilots will come with their own servos, which are different for the two products and which is one of the chief differentiators between them. Both servo types are brushless DC units, but the 600’s are hardened for an extra margin of safety in harsher environmental conditions, such as might be encountered at very high altitudes or in icing conditions. The 600 can also integrate with a wide variety of existing panel-mount equipment, including the Garmin G500/G600 displays, as well as equipment from other manufacturers, so that, in theory, owners of many planes with an already well-equipped panel will be able to add the Garmin autopilot without having to change the rest of the panel.

    While the GFC 600 autopilot is designed to TSO standards as a stand-alone unit, the GFC 500 is based on Garmin’s G3X autopilot, popular among homebuilders. The unit will interface with a Garmin G5 electronic flight display and will feature a dedicated autopilot controller with Garmin’s familiar control wheel for setting airspeed and vertical speed values.

    Cost of the GC 500 when paired with an existing G5 flight instrument is just $6,995, and can be purchased with a G5 primary display as a set for around $10,000. Garmin expects initial certification for the GFC 500 later this year in the Cessna 172, with certifications for the Cessna 182 and Piper PA-28 models to follow early next year.

    The GFC 600 will sell for $19,995 for the A36 Bonanza and $23,995 for the Beechcraft Baron, two models for which Garmin has already earned STC approvals. Look for our flight report on the new autopilots in a coming issue of Plane & Pilot.

    http://www.planeandpilotmag.com/article/garmin-shocker-retrofit-autopilots/#.WW4yY8bMxE5
     
  2. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If that's "inexpensive" (and it's not even touching the cost to install), I'll have what you're having :)
     
  3. BrianNC

    BrianNC Pattern Altitude

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    Well I thought most autopilots were in the 20k to 50k range. If that's the case, $6995 is 'inexpensive', relatively speaking of course.
     
  4. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    My G3X has AP built in whether I use it or not. Adding two servos cost me $1500. THAT's an inexpensive autopilot!
     
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  5. bradg33

    bradg33 Cleared for Takeoff

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    The GFC600, which is for "high performance singles" like a Bonanza, costs 3x as much as the GFC 500. That doesn't compute for me.
     
  6. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I hope the GC500 will go into the PA32-300... 10k and install is a bargain!
     
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  7. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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  8. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    If the pricing remains that and the cheaper one will be eligible for the 182, then I know my dad will be interested in it. Installation labor might even be free.
     
  9. Brian Dilse

    Brian Dilse Pre-Flight

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    welll well…hmmm, let me think about this one….It looks like it comes with the FD

    I just can't believe the price with all the functionality….you need electric trim for altitude capture and VS modes….
    curious to see what the real total price will be when you start adding functionality
     
  10. arnoha

    arnoha Cleared for Takeoff

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    That is an incredible price. I don't think there's anything with that level of functionality that comes close.

    There is a huge caveat on this one: "...with a G5 installation." That's why the low price...it's to drive G5 installations. I think this may be a play to displace the cheaper Aspen solution for that.
     
  11. arkvet

    arkvet Line Up and Wait

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    and Aspen likely anticipated this which is why they ran their recent price slashing... To me the big downer for Aspen is installation cost (lots of labor) and the cost when you have problems! Also less redundancy with Aspen. I like the idea of two separate boxes (G5's)
     
  12. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 Pattern Altitude

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    Cheaper Aspen? Two G5s are $5K vs $10K for the pro.
     
  13. Brian Dilse

    Brian Dilse Pre-Flight

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    I like the Aspen because it has a lot of functionality across several different manufacturers. I was shocked to learn I could hook up my Narco 12D and Apollo GX55 for NAV/GPS2 with no problem.

    As far as I know, the G5 doesn't have synthetic vision.
     
  14. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    whadya need an autopilot for when ya got perfectly good "paper" "sectionals" to get ya where ya need to go?!?
     
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  15. BrianNC

    BrianNC Pattern Altitude

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    Approval for the 172 first this fall, then the 182 will follow according this video.

     
  16. arnoha

    arnoha Cleared for Takeoff

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    Any idea if it can use existing servos, or does it need its own?
     
  17. arnoha

    arnoha Cleared for Takeoff

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    Last I priced it, Aspen was significantly cheaper. But I haven't done it in a while. Garmin has had relatively reasonable pricing on a number of things recently. (Heavy emphasis on "relatively".)

    Now if they'd only reduce pricing on the GTN-series!
     
  18. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer En-Route

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    Ha. I guess we can dream.
     
  19. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Pricing of aviation components and aircraft is based on the victims blood volume, not cost. Why is a turbo SR22 100k more than a NA version if the difference in equipment retail prices is 30k or less ?
     
  20. CC268

    CC268 Final Approach

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    Anyone who uses an autopilot is an inferior pilot

    :ohsnap:
     
  21. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yes I am....so what?
     
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  22. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Price of the GFC500 with the third electric trim servo is $8995, and "Less than $12,000" with the required G5 if you don't have it already. (The listed price for the G5 is $2,975, so $11,970 for the whole kit and kaboodle, plus installation.)

    Needs its own. Pretty much true of each brand of autopilots, if not each individual unit. For example, my KFC150 uses different servos than a KAP140 which uses different servos than the KFC225 and so on. In fact, the GFC500 and GFC600 use different servos.

    Here's where Garmin is failing miserably - They're confusing the hell out of customers. They came out with the G500 first, and people started calling it the "G5", so they came out with a different unit called the G5, and then they came out with the autopilot that requires the G5 but is called the GFC500 which people will surely shorten to "500" or "G500" or "G5". Got all that? :crazy::skeptical::yikes:

    So, for reference, here are the units and prices:

    G500, $15,995:
    [​IMG]

    G5, $2,975:
    [​IMG]

    GFC500, $6,995:
    [​IMG]
     
  23. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yeah, I hope that they can get the GFC500 certified for the Mooney. I pestered them a couple of times on the webinar, and they said that some airplanes, especially those sensitive to CG or with a wide CG range, or those that operate at higher altitudes, may not be able to be certified within the envelope of the GFC500.

    I'm also REALLY disappointed that their new ability for the G5 to drive third-party autopilots is limited to heading, nav, etc. and will not provide an attitude reference to my KFC150. The KFC150 is a great system when it works, but while I *finally* have it working for the time being (after nearly 5 years of being in and out of the shop every few months), it is poorly supported. The shop rebuilt one of my servos at the component level because Honeywell/Bendix-King can't be bothered to overhaul one, and if they did, it'd be $9600. :eek: That alone is going to drive a lot of sales for Garmin.

    But, for now, the G5 can't drive my autopilot, the GFC500 isn't going to be certified in my plane soon (if at all), and the G500 + GAD43e is not in the budget this year. :( If the G5 could drive my autopilot, I'd have been all over it. Alas, we'll probably leave the flight instrumentation AND the autopilot alone for now, and this year's upgrade will be for ADS-B and a GTN.

    Then there's the club planes. The DA40 has a G1000 without WAAS and without the GFC700. They will not be doing retrofits for that setup, and while we can get a WAAS upgrade, I don't think we can upgrade the autopilot. :( Maybe if they certify the G5 as a backup at some point we can have it be our backup AI and get the autopilot then. Until then, we're stuck with a KAP140. The Archer has a mishmash: Piper autopilot for the roll axis, S-TEC altitude hold, and a third party's GPSS. But it works. A G5 or two may be in the works if the existing AI/DG crap out, and someday if the autopilot pieces start to go, the GFC500 would be an option. The R182 has an Aspen. The G5 would offer *less* capability, but its S-TEC 60-2 works just fine and it's not even close to worthwhile to get a GFC600 unless S-TEC goes out of business (which is now a distinct possibility) and their stuff goes unsupported.
     
  24. GLMS_NC

    GLMS_NC Line Up and Wait

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    Keep in mind, ladies and gentlemen, these are list prices for these units. Folks like Sarasota and others routinely sell for under MSRP. Granted, it's still pricey, but there is a little room here, and better that what Century and STEC are charging for their units. If these can help with loss of control / SD with pilots, I am all for it.

    Part23 kicks in shortly so it will be curious what the next year looks like with these prices.

    Garmin obviously sees a market with all these retrofit announcements. Personally I like to read this and to the competition, what is your response?
     
  25. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    I'll spend that in a blink dealing with a failure in my 28v Piper/Century system.
     
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  26. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Looks like you nailed the G5 tie-in prediction to the STC'd autopilot lineup a few months back.

    This has created new motivation for me to look away from Avidyne and Aspen in the 182 retrofit world... which is, of course, what Garmin wanted. The GTN is still outrageously priced for what it does, but the stuff together as a retrofit overall system, starts to look better than the other two manufacturers.

    Still, even at a highly competitive shop, a full setup is priced at roughly half the value of the entire aircraft. That's still a little hard to swallow.

    Even the GTN/GTX quotes we have in hand are just under twenty AMUs installed, including necessary box shuffling and OBS fiddling to leave the King Nav/Com/Glideslope radio and OBS in as a backup. Replacing a dead gyro in the future with a G5 as long as field reports are favorable about those, is also not awful, but the A/P... tough call.

    If it was a Midwest or coastal airplane (or we went there often) with regular contact with IMC, it starts to make sense somewhat. But the A/P, even as decent as this one looks, is still very "on the bubble" and probably even falls below a new interior and eventually, paint. Even falls below replacing the seat belts with dual shoulder harnesses.
     
  27. Brian Dilse

    Brian Dilse Pre-Flight

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    Don't you love free market capitalism? Its refreshing to see Garmin not have a monopoly and feel pressure from competition.
     
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  28. TommyTBone

    TommyTBone Ejection Handle Pulled

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    The big question will be: will they obsoletize it in a dozen years or so by dropping support of it just like they do for so many of their products?

    Forced obsolescence is a game they play quite well and seems to be the Garmin "churning business" model. Interestingly, we seem to unquestioningly accept it as the new norm.

    My Cherokee has a 40 year-old KX155 in it that can still be worked on, and was just last winter.

    It also has a 12 year-old GNC300xl that will be a boat anchor when it breaks because Garmin no longer supports it.

    I'll avoid their products, thanks.
     
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  29. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    That's because its already a boat anchor. No one wants a G300XL. I have been flying with one for years. I use it as COM 2, that's all its good for.
     
  30. TommyTBone

    TommyTBone Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I shoot approaches with mine all the time, works just fine...
     
  31. arnoha

    arnoha Cleared for Takeoff

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    Oh! Thanks for that. I feel stupid now. I was mixing up the G5 and the G500. Ignore everything I said, as I was clearly talking out my ass.
     
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  32. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    That G300XL works just fine for what it can do, and what it can do is light years ahead of anything even available in a cockpit when I started flying. For many folks it fills the exact mission of what they're doing.

    I'm a gadget freak, but certainly not a gadget snob. Your commentary comes off as snobby. If the device does the job someone requires, it's not a boat anchor.

    I also have two pieces of avionics on board my aircraft that are 44 years old. One mostly works (autopilot), the other works as good as the day it left the ARC factory (transponder) and still meets test spec. The new hotness of IFR panels in 1975.

    That said, nothing on the market today will ever last that long. Not because of the guts. Because of the displays.

    Display technology hasn't kept up with physical switch technology and that ARC transponder uses physical display and switching for everything. Put a vacuum flourescent display one piece of electronics, or an LCD, or worse, a capacitive touchscreen LCD, and Garmin won't have any choice but to obsolete it when parts to repair the display become unobtainable. Which happens relatively quickly with such components.

    Also with the modern avionics "box swapper" techs who couldn't read a schematic and repair anything at component level if their life depended on it, Garmin's model (and now King's too, other than the KX-15X and -16X style Nav/Com's) is the "ship it to the depot, no repairable parts inside and no service manuals or schematics for it" repair system, purposefully designed for box swappers.

    But expecting any sort of real longevity out of avionics is mostly over with. The displays clinch it. Once the display isn't available and the manufacturer has used up their EOL purchased stock and has stripped every possible one from everything in the "dead" pool, they announce their intention to not do box swap depot repairs anymore.

    Garmin, or anyone else can pop that surprise at any time. King essentially already has on their early stuff, by putting prices so high on box swaps, nobody but the most desperate to keep a specific radio (for regulatory or other reasons) will bother to pay it.
     
  33. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    It has no WAAS. Any IFR GPS that is not capable of LPV approaches is obsolete. If it breaks, no one is going to spend any real money to fix it, and they have probably been lusting after a 430W anyway.

    The aforementioned KX155 is not obsolete because its just a radio, and those haven't changed much. People will spend money to keep them going.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
  34. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    There's plenty of folks who don't need WAAS accuracy for enroute, and aren't flying LPV approaches, but nice try.
     
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  35. Caramon13

    Caramon13 Pattern Altitude

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    True, but unless you have a ILS capable plane LPV may be your only shot at getting under the weather in some cases. A lot of the smaller fields that used to have NDB around me are now RNAV approaches. Sure you could shoot a LNAV but the difference in MDA can make the difference between going missed or landing.

    That's part of the reason I went with a GTN-650 when I owned my Cherokee. Wanted to be able to shoot any normal GA type approach (outside of an NDB).

    I wouldn't even consider a non-WAAS GPS for any plane these days. Since when does less accuracy actually help you out? Forget about the approach types, WAAS has many other options.
     
  36. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    It's been a huge help to me on many days. The number of 3000' + foot airports with no ILS service but that have LPV approaches and minimums down to 300' or 200' is now a very big number. All the podunk airports around me now have LPV. IFR airplanes for sale that do not have a WAAS capable GPS take a hit in value approximately equal to the cost of adding one.

    Maybe I am a GPS snob.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
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  37. Caramon13

    Caramon13 Pattern Altitude

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    I know I'm a GPS snob :).

    For reference just look at the approach plate for KSRQ 14:

    upload_2017-7-19_11-55-17.png

    With an LNAV the lowest you can get 1.5 nm out is 560 and 440 as an MDA. LPV can get you through 217 ft worth of low hanging clouds/mist. That does happen.

    I've shot this one a couple times.

    Or lakeland (KLAL), again almost 200 ft.
    upload_2017-7-19_11-58-26.png

    The smaller fields don't usually have LPV, but there are some that do. I can see @denverpilot 's comment applying to those pilots that just never leave those small fields, but most people eventually go somewhere else and non-WAAS gps' can limit some things..
     
  38. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Poor example. SRQ has not one, but two ILS. Someone with enroute only GPS and an Nav/Com with Glideslope is going to get in there, just as well as the WAAS GPS owner.

    Small fields are actually worse than your example, because that's where a WAAS GPS shines. If, as you say, they actually have an LPV approach. Many don't.

    When they start decommissioning ILS approaches, your point would be much more valid. Especially giving an example of an airport with not just one, but two of them. :)
     
  39. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    And that wasn't what the person was asking for, they were saying they expected longer support on a device they already own.

    But that last line is entertaining. List off the "other options" WAAS provides enroute in a non-approach environment. I'm interested in this list of "many other options".
     
  40. EppyGA

    EppyGA Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Hmmm.......
    SRQ LIS 14.png
     
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