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TOPIC: upgrade advise sought

upgrade advise sought 1 month 1 week ago #1653

  • Steve Rhode
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I added the Avidyne DFC-90 autopilot in my 182 and that unit is AMAZING. One of the best upgrades I ever made. It flys an approach like it is on rails. I love the fact you can add flaps on the GS and it will automatically adjust the pitch for the flaps.

However, there are other good units out there. All I know is I hate to sell my plane because the autopilot is just that good.
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upgrade advise sought 1 month 1 week ago #1650

Larry, STEC has confirmed they didn't fly the STEC 3100 in all the models on the AML. I inquired specific to the 3100 and TR182 and this was their reply. I've removed names for privacy.

"When we do an STC for a 3100 we look for the most restrictive model we can find which allows us to cover the entire series or at least a majority of it. Flight tests are performed in that aircraft, and we use the engineering data we have from legacy systems in order to make any necessary changes such as servo location for the variants in the models. The STC for the 3100 was done in [xxxxxx]’s airplane, which is a fixed gear 182. The retractable models if anything should fly even better as they have reduced drag. If you have specific questions or concerns that I can address I will get you any answers that I can. I talked to the guys at the STC hangar and off the top of their head they mentioned that [xxxx] at [KABC] has a retractable 210 which will have similar flight performance, if you have questions that they could address as well."
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upgrade advise sought 1 month 2 weeks ago #1632

Thanks Larry! When the 3100 was announced, if I recall correctly the STC has an AML with several hundred models on it. There is no way S-TEC flew all those in the weeks ahead of the launch. Even rare types like mine were included.

Is it possible they were able to use their previous experience with the S-TEC 55X, 60, etc. as a certification basis?
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upgrade advise sought 1 month 2 weeks ago #1631

I would just like to make a slight correction to the last post. I was a Project Engineer for Bendix/King assigned to Auto Pilots. I was also charged with test flying and certification of these Auto Pilots. Each aircraft an Auto Pilot is STC 'd for must actually be flown and demonstrated to the FAA that it will meet the certification for that make and model. Unless things have changed when I was Project Engineer the FAA certification required us to physically demonstrate in each make and model that the auto pilot would not exceed +- 1 G and bank no more that 20 degrees under any circumstances. We actually solicited AC owners who wanted our AP certified to install it in their AC at a tremendous discount so we could tweak the settings and obtain an STC. The more STC's were could complete the more Auto Pilots we could sell.
Your statement "they install based on a broad AML (Approved Model List) and haven't necessarily flown each model with this A/P actually installed" is not correct and I would just like to keep everyone properly informed.
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upgrade advise sought 1 month 2 weeks ago #1624

Thomas,

Congratulations on the new (to you) airplane! I'm the author Jen talks about who has the GFC 500 in the TR182.

Fortunately for you, the GFC 500 includes the 182E (the earliest model it currently supports): buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/604257#additional

It's also covered for the STEC 3100, which starts at $19,995 for a 2-axis solution (pitch and roll). genesys-aerosystems.com/news/over-100-ai...d-for-the-s-tec-3100

Garmin's GFC 500 will give you automatic electric pitch trim as an option. Without it, you'll get "TRIM UP" and "TRIM DOWN" notifications on the G5.

The Garmin product uses newer style servos; the STEC product uses the same servos they've used for years in their other autopilots. Do some research online and you'll find the STEC servos have some service life challenges and support can be problematic, timely in downtime, and costly (as in, "remove it and ship it to us in Mineral Wells, TX").

I agree with your assessment that staying within one vendor family makes for a cleaner installation.

Monitor the BeechTalk forums and you'll see that STEC is responsive to problems, but... they install based on a broad AML (Approved Model List) and haven't necessarily flown each model with this A/P actually installed. That makes you a bit of the guinea pig and you'll spend some times working out bugs in your installation. Garmin actually does ~ 30 hours of test flying in each model they certify, so all the gains and other settings are already tweaked--you'll get a better flying solution out of the box, in my opinion.

I'd suggest a careful conversation with your avionics installer about their experiences and suggestions. They usually know more about the "gotchas" of what works between brands and what doesn't. For example, any issues with the IFD 440 interfacing with the G5's and either autopilot.

That said, I'd stick with the GFC 500 or the STEC 3100 as both are modern DIGITAL autopilots, not rate-based gyro-driven.

My personal preference (biased) would be the GFC 500... it integrates seamlessly with your G5's.
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upgrade advise sought 1 month 3 weeks ago #1615

  • Jen D
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No specific recommendations. Garmin has the GFC 500 and Genesys the S-TEC 3100, but if you'd want to check compatibility with existing (or to be added) avionics with whichever one you choose.

The October issue of Cessna Flyer magazine has an article about a member who used his 182RG as a test-bed for the Garmin GFC 500. Let me see if he wants to weigh in here with his thoughts.

Jen
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