Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Down for a "Good Type of Maintenance"

It is rare for a pilot to refer to any plane down-time as "Good".  But today my plane is down for a very good type of maintenance.  In fact, it is really not true maintenance.  I had the annual done last month and luckily there are no outstanding squawks.  Instead, it was time to upgrade the autopilot!

As some of you may know, Avidyne recently received all FAA approvals on their new autopilot, the DFC100.  I have been eagerly awaiting this product for some time.

The standard autopilot from Cirrus, which is the STEC55X, is a totally capable product that I have grown rather proficient with in the last couple of years.  But the DFC100,which is shown below, is a digital, attitude-based, autopilot that is far superior to the rate based APs like the STEC 55X:
From everything I have read and seen in the demo flight, this autopilot will make the plane feel like it is "riding on rails" plus it has other cool features like the "straight & level" button and envelope protection.  Given the amount of IFR flying I do, these goodies will surely come in very handy on upcoming adventures.

Bill @ Sarasota Avionics started the "upgrade" today.  Assuming no surprises, I should have the plane back by Thursday just in time for Sun N Fun.

I can't wait to make some videos of this new "gadget" in action.

As you can imagine, my fingers are crossed!


  1. I didn't realize that the autopilot in smaller planes would control the airspeed? Is it only through pitch or will it be connected to the throttle?

  2. This product is really quite neat! It does control airspeed with pitch, which is very handy when doing a climb from sea level in FL upto my usual 16-17k. But it does not control throttle... Who knows, maybe if they come out with a DFC 200 ;-) But the best part is how well it is integrated with the R9!!

  3. TJ I was wondering what day you plan on flying into sun n fun? Maybe I'll see you there!


  4. John,
    Today (Thursday): Probably half day due to the rain
    Tomorrow (Friday): probably all day
    Saturday: half day attending the COPA event.

    Hopefully, I will C U there!


  5. I have yet to come into contact with a real autopilot, I'm on in PPL training. Be sure to show a vid of all it's features, haha :)

  6. Scott,

    I fondly remember those days (sans AP)... Even now, once a month, I try to do a flight totally by hand (just to prove to myself that I can do it)

    Will definitely have some vidz soon!

  7. TJ,

    Great experience! Am glad you were able to "test fly" the route. The process on both ends does seem easier and better organized that I thought. Am sure your preparation and planning helped make sure you had a smooth experience.

    Settling in Hong Kong. 3rd day. Will fill you in.

  8. Looking forward to a flight report.

    I just read about Jason's install of the same unit (vectors to final blog, ttp://vectorstofinal.blogspot.com/2011/01/new-autopilot-dfc90.html )


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