It’s easy to add full autopilot capability to your experimental or light sport aircraft equipped with G5 electronic flight instruments or a G3X Touch flight display. Both allow you to give your system a range of autopilot capabilities similar to those provided by our high-end GFC 700 systems found on thousands of certified aircraft.
All it takes is the addition of our affordable GSA 28 “smart” servos. You have the option to purchase a 1-, 2- or 3-axis configuration (roll servo only, pitch+roll or pitch+roll+yaw) to add the level of capability you want. Even better, the Garmin experimental autopilot system includes automatic trim functionality and automatic speed scheduling at no additional cost. And all of these advanced functions can be accessed directly from your G3X Touch display or separate GMC 305 or GMC 507 autopilot controllers. Installation of the system is simple and straightforward — with industry-standard servo mounting kits available as well as airframe-specific versions for Van’s RV series (includes RV-4/6/7/8/9/10 models).
Optional GMC 305 or GMC 507 control panels¹ offer added redundancy and convenience with paired G3X Touch flight displays. With GMC 305, dedicated autopilot mode buttons allow for quick and easy access to autopilot modes, while an intuitive control wheel allows easier pitch, vertical speed and airspeed adjustments. Better still, GMC 507 adds dedicated knobs for altitude and heading selection. Plus, both panels have the additional safety feature of an advanced LVL mode button, which commands the autopilot to help restore the aircraft to straight-and-level flight.
With installation of our autopilot system, you’ll also obtain Garmin ESP-X to provide assistance in maintaining the aircraft in stable flight. When you exceed user-selected pitch, roll or airspeed limitations while hand-flying the aircraft, ESP-X provides the appropriate corrective forces on the flight controls to lessen the aircraft’s pitch attitude or bank angle — and that correcting force grows stronger as those exceedances increase. In addition, you’ll see visual cues on the G3X Touch display indicating that ESP-X is engaged; yellow chevrons provide visual pitch guidance, and configurable roll-limit indicators show where ESP-X engages to provide bank guidance.
As you take corrective action, ESP-X fades and turns off when you return to normal flight. Conversely, if the system activates for more than 15 seconds, e.g., if you become incapacitated, the autopilot engages with the flight director in level mode, bringing the aircraft to level flight until you command otherwise. While Garmin ESP-X will not recover an aircraft in all inflight situations, the system does provide your experimental and light sport aircraft with an extra safety feature.
But ESP-X goes beyond providing pitch and bank envelope protection to also offer high- and low-airspeed protection. In a high-airspeed situation while hand-flying the aircraft, ESP-X engages the autopilot servos to increase your pitch attitude, while built-in parameters further prevent the aircraft from exceeding G-limit load factors. In low-airspeed situations while hand-flying the aircraft, ESP-X engages to provide a gentle pitch-down force to reduce the likelihood of a stall. Both overspeed and underspeed protection also work while the autopilot is engaged should an aircraft performance limitation be reached from a pilot-provided autopilot command. For example, if the pilot sets an aggressive climb the aircraft cannot perform, underspeed protection will limit the pitch attitude to help prevent a stall from occurring. In addition, pitch, roll and airspeed envelope protection parameters are all customizable, and for flight training or aerobatics, you can easily inhibit ESP-X within the automatic flight control system menu of G3X Touch or with an optional switch in the panel.