Garmin introduces glass cockpit for helos

 - February 21, 2010, 4:58 PM

Garmin unveiled yesterday at Heli-Expo 2010 the G500H avionics system, specifically for the VFR Part 27 helicopter market.

Jim Alpiser, Garmin’s director of aviation aftermarket sales, said the impetus for Garmin’s entry to the helicopter market was essentially one of safety. “We saw a need to better serve, based on news about helicopter accidents, particularly those involving controlled flight into terrain [CFIT]. The time has become right for us to ask ‘What’s that need that we can serve?’”

Gary Kelley, Garmin’s marketing vice president, added, “FAA reports have indicated three main areas of operational risks for helicopters: inadvertent flight into IMC, night operations and CFIT. The G500H was designed to proactively address these issues and help reduce situational risk and the challenges that come from a busier airspace. We’re serious about safety and we believe our new helicopter products will help make flying safer.”

The G500H offers optional synthetic-vision imagery with helicopter-specific databases featuring more than 7,000 heliports, including 5,500 not previously included. Nearly 30,000 additional low-altitude obstacles are included as well. The G500H can also receive and present XM satellite weather and display video from infrared enhanced vision systems and other video sources. The system includes a solid-state attitude/heading reference system (AHRS) and an air-data computer. With its remote magnetic-heading sensor, the AHRS is capable of rapid alignment while moving, including in-flight dynamic restarts. The G500H communicates and integrates with other Garmin panel-mounted products including the GNS 430W/530W series and Garmin’s new Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning System (HTAWS).

Available as an option on newly purchased GNS 430W/530W systems or as a field upgrade, the HTAWS TSO-C194 software will provide operators with graphical and audible alerts of potential terrain and obstacle conflicts along the projected flight path. Forward-looking terrain avoidance incorporates a multicolor, terrain-hazard display and gives voice alerts when the aircraft descends below 500 feet. The system also provides a reduced-protection mode to give low-level operations minimal alerting while continuing to provide terrain and obstacle protection.

The basic G500H system carries an introductory price of $24,995, which includes a control/display unit, the AHRS and magnetometer, air-data computer and temperature probe. Garmin’s helicopter synthetic-vision technology (HSVT) is expected to be available as a G500H option for $7,995. Garmin anticipates FAA STCs for G500H installations on the Bell 206 and 407 in the second quarter of this year. The Olathe, Kan., company plans for its HTAWS to be certified and available in the same time frame for $9,995. The G500H system is on display at Garmin’s Heli-Expo exhibit (Booth No. 1417), as well as in a Bell 407, installed by Edwards & Associates, and at the Eurocopter static display in an EC130-B4, installed by Air Methods.

Other Garmin systems that mesh with the G500H include the new GSR 56 Iridium transceiver, the GTS 800, GTS 820 and GTS 850 TAS and TCAS I traffic awareness systems, and SafeTaxi.