Garmin has received FAA supplemental type certification (STC) for the GFC 600H helicopter flight control system in the Airbus Helicopters AS350 B2/B3 single. The attitude-based (AHRS-derived) flight control system features include attitude hold (ATT), Helicopter Electronic Stability and Protection (H-ESP), dedicated return-to-level (LVL) mode, hover assist, and overspeed and low-speed protection. The GFC 600H requires the Garmin G500H or G500H TXi flight displays and offers integration with compatible instruments and navigation sources. The system is expected to be available later this month through select Garmin dealers.
The GFC 600H provides inputs designed to help stabilize the helicopter while hand-flying. The stability provided by the GFC 600H system offers workload reduction and benefits helicopter operators by maintaining a commanded attitude and its cyclic-mounted trim controls facilitate seamless interactions without removal of hands from flight controls during basic operations, including system initialization of ATT mode and adjustments of the pitch and roll trim. While flying with ATT, pilots can easily “fly through” the flight control inputs for smooth maneuvers beyond the preset trim condition. H-ESP works when hand-flying the helicopter and in all modes, even when the system is not engaged, and can be manually disabled to allow for maneuvering flight. The GFC 600H also features a dedicated level mode that can be engaged by the pilot to return to straight-and-level flight, helping to avoid a potential loss-of-control scenario.
Hover-assist mode automatically detects a hover condition and provides flight control inputs to help maintain position over the ground. The optional yaw axis control holds heading while in a hover. Available groundspeed hold allows the pilot to input a forward or sideways command, useful during taxi and takeoff. The system uses guidance for en route and approach navigation from a compatible Garmin navigator, such as the GTN 750Xi/GTN 650Xi or GTN 750/650 series, to automatically fly approaches and search and rescue patterns. Additional vertical and lateral modes include altitude hold, altitude select, vertical speed, indicated airspeed, and heading select.
The GFC 600H features a stack-width mode controller with push-button controls, a night vision goggle (NVG) compatible display and supports a three-axis configuration. Integrated “smart” servos provide pitch and roll inputs as commanded by the system, and the available third servo and collective sensor provide yaw axis control capability and smooth flight control adjustments when the pilot moves the collective. The digitally controlled, high-torque servos are designed for a faster, crisper, more powerful response.