Garmin announces GFC 600H flight control system certification for Bell 505

Garmin Press Release | July 20, 2021

Estimated reading time 5 minutes, 50 seconds.

Garmin International, Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. has announced that the GFC 600H flight control system has received supplemental type certificate (STC) approval for installation on the Bell 505 helicopter, providing a cost-effective flight control solution that reduces pilot workload and improves mission effectiveness. The GFC 600H provides a number of helicopter-tailored safety features, including attitude hold with speed stability, the innovative hover assist mode, Garmin Helicopter Electronic Stability and Protection (H-ESP), dedicated return-to-level (LVL) mode, as well as overspeed and low-speed protection, and more. “The GFC 600H provides a highly capable and advanced flight control solution while aiding to reduce inflight workload to the many Bell 505 owners and operators,” said Carl Wolf, Garmin vice president of aviation sales and marketing. “We are proud to build on Garmin’s proven flight control capabilities and safety-minded aviation technologies with the state-of-the-art GFC 600H and its fly-through technology to better assist pilots in conducting their important missions.”

Garmin’s GFC 600H flight control system provides a cost-effective flight control solution that reduces pilot workload and improves mission effectiveness. Garmin Photo

“The Garmin autopilot provides a significant pilot workload reduction during every phase of flight, including hover,” said Yann Lavalee, Bell senior test pilot. “Not only does the autopilot fly the helicopter smoothly, it also includes advanced safety features like automatic altitude leveling airspeed and low G protection. The GFC 600H integration with the advanced G1000H and G1000H NXi avionics system offers ease of operation and precise navigation.”

The GFC 600H features a console-mounted mode controller with push-button controls and a night vision goggle (NVG) compatible display. Its robust architecture allows for both 2-axis and 3-axis configurations to provide the features and handling characteristics needed for a helicopter. Integrated smart servos provide pitch and roll inputs as commanded by the system, and the collective sensor and the optionally available third servo provide yaw axis control capability, including a new yaw trim feature, to provide smooth flight control adjustments when the pilot moves the collective. Digitally controlled, high-performance servos allow for faster, crisper, more powerful response, which enables the GFC 600H to perform with smooth efficiency and advanced capability.

Thanks to the innovative hover assist mode, the system can also automatically detect a hover condition and all for flight control inputs to help maintain position over the ground. In addition, when equipped with the optional yaw axis control, the GFC 600H can hold heading in hover. With the GFC 600H, aircraft navigation works in conjunction with the G1000H or G1000H NXi integrated flight deck and uses navigation information to automatically fly approaches, provide enroute navigation guidance, fully coupled missed approach procedures including holds, as well as search and rescue patterns.

The advanced AHRS technology and redundant, cross-checking sensors of the GFC 600H support smooth handling throughout the flight envelope. Further, attitude-hold mode reduces pilot workload by maintaining a specified altitude, while also providing inputs to help stabilize the helicopter when hand-flying. Designed with the pilot in mind, the GFC 600H incorporates cyclic-mounted trim controls and new yaw trim controls on the collective to allow for seamless control of the system without taking a hand off of the flight controls during basic operations. Additional modes include altitude hold, altitude select, vertical speed, indicated airspeed and heading select.

The GFC 600H offers tremendous safety tools including overspeed protection and low-speed protection as well as Garmin H-ESP to help the pilot remain within a safe flight envelope when hand-flying the helicopter. H-ESP works in all modes – even when the system is not engaged – and can be manually disabled to allow for maneuvering flight. A dedicated LVL button is included on the GFC 600H and can be engaged by the pilot to return to straight-and-level flight, helping to avoid potential disorientation in degraded visual environments (DVE), such as inadvertent entry into instrument meteorological conditions (IIMC).

With a speed of 125 knots (232 kilometers per hour) and a useful load of 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms), the Bell 505 is designed with safety in mind to help make flying easier while providing unmatched value to the operators. The GFC 600H will be available as the preferred factory-installed option in new Bell 505 helicopters. The GFC 600H for the Bell 505 is also expected to be available in August as a retrofit through authorized Garmin dealers. The Bell 505 joins the AS 350 BA, B2, B3 and B3E in Garmin’s collection of available retrofit helicopter flight control systems. 

This press release was prepared and distributed by Garmin International, Inc.

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