Garmin has added a second helicopter—the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X—to the list of FAA approvals for its GFC 600H helicopter flight control system (HFCS). The first certification program for the GFC 600H was the Airbus Helicopters AS350 AStar (BA, B2, B3, and B3E models), which received FAA approval in February 2020.
In the Bell 505, Garmin added new features to the GFC 600H installation to continue improving safety and utility, including a new yaw trim switch, which allows the pilot to fly with the inclinometer (ball) out of trim—permitting an observer to get a better view, for example.
Other features of the GFC 600H on the Bell 505 include attitude hold with speed stability, hover-assist mode, electronic stability and protection limit cueing, return-to-level (LVL) mode, overspeed and low-speed protections, and—with navigation input from the G1000H avionics—fully coupled missed approach procedures, holds, and search-and-rescue patterns.
The GFC 600H is available in the Bell 505 in two- or three-axis configurations, with the optional yaw servo providing yaw control and the new yaw trim feature. The console-mounted mode controller has push-button controls and its display is night vision goggle compatible.
Hover-assist mode automatically detects the hover condition and maintain’s the 505’s position over the ground, including holding heading when equipped with the optional yaw servo. The LVL button returns the helicopter to straight-and-level flight, which can help the pilot “avoid potential disorientation in degraded visual environments, such as inadvertent entry into instrument meteorological conditions,” according to Garmin.
“The Garmin autopilot provides a significant pilot workload reduction during every phase of flight, including hover,” said Bell senior test pilot Yann Lavalee. “Not only does the autopilot fly the helicopter smoothly, it also includes advanced safety features like automatic altitude leveling [and] 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.”
Bell is offering the GFC 600H as the “preferred factory-installed option” for new 505s, and in August Garmin dealers will make it available as a retrofit installation.