New Low Cost Autopilots

Scott ShererScott Sherer COO Forum Moderator
New, low cost autopilots seem to be the hot topic of late. With most of us flying around with 40+ year old autopilots, it's no wonder. Now we seem to have a hand full of low cost autopilot choices if you're willing to make a few small compromises. Trio, Trig, STec, Garmin and others have new a/p's at about half the cost of autopilots just one generation older. Very impressive. The only issue is STC availability. The Garmin G500, for example, may take a couple of years to get FAA approval for our aircraft. Other autopilots, not as bad. Are any of you installing any of these new autopilots? If you have purchased one or considered purchasing one, what are you looking at? Can you fill us in on aircraft model, STC availability, installed cost, usability, etc?
Thanks in advance,
Scott Sherer
Forum Moderator

Scott Sherer
Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
Aviation Director, Cessna Owners Organization Forum Moderator and Cessna Owners Author.

Need help? Let me know!

Comments

  • I'd like to see one that didn't require a GPS to operate for VFR flying. You should be able to dial in a heading bug and have it hold that. I'd even be ok with it not handling altitude. Just wings level button and a heading bug.
  • Scott ShererScott Sherer COO Forum Moderator
    Have you looked at the STec 20/30 or the Century 2000? These are one generation old and have good prices. I've used both and they're excellent autopilots. www.centuryflight.com http://genesys-aerosystems.com/ .

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Cessna Owners Organization Forum Moderator and Cessna Owners Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • Hi WB again ... Of interest, I believe both the Trio Pro Pilot (about $9000 installed) and the TruTrak Vizion (about $ 7-8000 installed) autopilots can interface to an inexpensive portable GPS for VFR flying. They both have internal heading so no DG is required. The System 20 is about $11,500 installed and frankly basic compared to Trio or TruTrak.
    The Trio and TruTrak offer a straight and level button and flight envelope control! Check out the March issue for my article "Evolution of the Autopilot" if you haven't read it?
    Bob Hart www.AvionixHelp.com
  • I have the legacy Navomatic 300a with the S-TEC 60PSS installed and was looking for an all-in-one solution and thought the GFC500 might be it. However, if you have a R182, like me, your out of luck, for what will be some time waiting for the GFC500 autopilot. Below is the response I received from Garmin.

    The problem I now have is my G-502A DG is in need of repair or replacement and I was thinking of a G5. But that opens another can of worms.

    Thank you for reaching out. At this time we do not have any announcements regarding the timeline of upcoming autopilot certifications. Your request has been received and we will use this information to evaluate the marketplace for future certification efforts.

    For now, I have logged your information into our autopilot interest log and appreciate your note. We do not have a firm schedule at this time. Please find the most up to date supported aircraft information at the links below. If you sign up for the Garmin Aviation Newsletter (look for “Stay Informed” on the middle-right side of this web page: https://fly.garmin.com/fly-garmin/), you will get pro-active communications on our most recent announcements and plans. Again, we greatly appreciate your direct feedback. If you might have any other questions, please let me know. Thank you!

    garmin.com/gfc600aircraft

    garmin.com/gfc500aircraft


    [FONT=&quot]Kyle Lennemann[/FONT][FONT=&quot] | Aviation Associate Sales Manager[/FONT]
  • Scott ShererScott Sherer COO Forum Moderator
    This autopilot conundrum is confusing and annoying many of us. I was looking to buy a new single engine aircraft after I sold my twin last month and most of the used planes come with an ancient autopilot in them. So what can you install? If you need an autopilot right now, they just aren't available. If you can wait a year or two you are in luck, according to the pundits. I ultimately purchased an airplane that had an STEC 55X installed six months ago. Awesome autopilot, it turned out very well for me. In your case, all you can do is buy an expensive new autopilot like the STEC 55x or wait and spend money maintaining the old autopilot, at a thousand bucks at a crack. Good luck! It sounds like you'll be overhauling your attitude indicator.

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Cessna Owners Organization Forum Moderator and Cessna Owners Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • It looks to me that either of you see the value in the TruTrak or Trio autopilots? Scott, I'm sure you have read my article on the winner of the Trio Pro Pilot and his experience with the installation and final analysis. His words ... (He has a 182RG). "This autopilot is on rails" and in the final analysis "Extremely Pleased". Money is one thing. The Trio will be about $9000 installed and the TriuTrak Vizion about $7-8000. Both are AHRS driven with built in GPSS roll steering. Vertical Speed and Altitude pre-select are also standard. No DG is required as they both have heading track built in also. Your horizon will be independent. Both have flight envelope protection and a straight and level button and have LPV approach capability when interfaced to a WAAS navigator. These are currently GPS only autopilots but Trio expects to add ILS capability for $1000 in the future. The STEC 55X will fly an ILS @ about $26,000 including optional alt-preselect installed. (That's a new Trio Pro Pilot and a new Garmin or Avidyne Navigator!) The Garmin GFC500 requires the G5 AI for roll/pitch sensing and the G5 DG or HSI for heading capability. Therefore, I would expect the GFC500 installed to be in the $16-17,000 range installed complete. The Garmin has a few other features like a go around button. Both Trio and TruTrak are established companies that have been doing this for almost 20 years. I think there is a lot of value in these new autopilots and worth considering in a 182. Bob Hart www.AvionixHelp.com
  • Scott ShererScott Sherer COO Forum Moderator
    Hi Bob and thanks for writing. I do see the value in the new digital autopilots. Unfortunately, the STC's aren't available for many aircraft yet and the same is true for the new Garmin autopilots. After these STC's are available they will hopefully start getting installed in reasonable quantity. At that time we'll see owner comments and reviews and see how they're doing. In the meantime, I can't recommend someone spend money on an unknown. Since I represent the association and it's buckets full of members I need to be careful what I say. Just because an autopilot reads well in the brochure doesn't mean it will fly well in certificated aircraft or that the company can maintain it. I prefer a more conservative approach.

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Cessna Owners Organization Forum Moderator and Cessna Owners Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • I have a 1973 CT206U with all original avionics. The start of a change out is the Auto Pilot. S-Tec has the digital 3100 but no STC for the 206. The have it for the 182 and jumped to the 210. Do you know of any other digital autopilot for the 206?
    Have you seen the AeroVonics.com 3" Primary Display?

  • Scott ShererScott Sherer COO Forum Moderator

    Stand by while I send this to our avionics expert, Bob Hart.

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Cessna Owners Organization Forum Moderator and Cessna Owners Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

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