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Exchange Autopilot options for a TB20

@Peter: It does exist.

Last Edited by at 14 Jan 10:44

It was posted on a US site that the STC is not yet available but they are collecting money from customers to get things moving.

It will be interesting what it comprises of e.g. the exact metalwork for servo mounting, what kind of servos (brushless, etc?) and whether the autopilot has the full “IFR” capability i.e. ILS and LPV.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

whether the autopilot has the full “IFR” capability i.e. ILS and LPV.

according to the brochure on their website it has only GPS track and coupling, I don’t see any ILS capability. In how far it can do LPV, they do not mention that but say it can do GPS approaches with Vertical guidance at airports where such procedures are available…

LSZH, Switzerland

No ILS = virtually useless in Europe.

And yes this appears confirmed here. Who on earth would pay serious money for something like that??? It’s ok for a VFR pilot who just wants an autopilot to hold the yoke for him on long flights…

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Well, it can do GPSS and just about everything else.

I agree it is a huge limitation however that it can do no analogue signal following at all, that means no VOR or ILS tracking. But quite a lot of the S-TEC AP’s don’t do full ILS either, only LOC. I think only the 60-2 and 55x as well as the new ones can do fully captured ILS approaches with GP following, the 30,40,50 have no GP feature.

LSZH, Switzerland

I don’t think many people quite appreciate this massive limitation, and I bet many won’t discover it until after the installation.

It is simply not even remotely like anything one would expect after paying out all that money.

However it would not be the first time someone paid out 5 digits in the belief that because he’s paying that much, it must be an “IFR” capable job…

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

The new autopilots do horizontal GPSS (any GPS) and vertical GPSV (WAAS GPS required) and ILS on GPS overlay, which is ok for the home market US and any NPA. Some efforts in the EAA initiative are now underway to add NAV coupling, but it is not thought to have high priority for the US, so ready to market is slow. Coupling to NAV and all that dealing with analogue signals makes it expensive, digital software programming instead of analogue engineering is far easier. Btw, the most progress has been seen on Aspen and G5 integration. I do expect to see fully coupling working systems at Sun N Fun.

Anybody I came across interested in these new autopilot was very well informed about what these devices can and what not. Decision making is not easy, but it helps that the money spent is most of the times not 5-digits but still 4-digit installed. Yes, many just want and need an autopilot to ease cross country flying, many VFR-only, and for that, these devices are meant.

Those who want and really need heavy IFR/IMC capability spend a lot of money anyways, so these new budget machines are not for them.

Last Edited by at 14 Jan 11:45


well, in practice, with the 55X which is fully coupled you can do an ILS under AP when the wind is less than 10 kts across, otherwise the AP won’t hold the loc properly, so quite often people will handfly the approach in any event. Almost all NPA’s now have GPS overlays too, which of course can be flown with the GPSS and GPSV function.

What I personally like best in my AP is GPSS and VS/ALT Hold/Preselect which is used all the time. Obviously I would expect full ILS capability. This is why I am considering an upgrade to the 3100 AP once this one gets STC’d for the Mooney. I would love the features of Lvl Change e.t.c. which make climbs much safer and I won’t mind the protections either, even though I could live without those. But to finally get an IAS/LVL Change mode and (what I hear) much improved ILS performance and integration with the Aspen would be interesting.

LSZH, Switzerland

Coupling to NAV also makes it expensive.

That is certainly not for any tech reason, so I wonder why they left it out? Receiving and decoding analog signals (composite nav for example) is trivial. But anyway all the common boxes (GNS, GTN, IFD) have analog deviations coming out, already decoded. Plus AFAIK the GTN and IFD also send it out on ARINC429 which is easy to receive (does need more expensive interface chips to transmit though, but you don’t need to do that).

It was probably left out because ILS is not big on the US GA scene. But in Europe ILS is critically important to IFR – unless one is banging approaches in a certain area most of the time.

Those who want and really need heavy IFR/IMC capability spend a lot of money anyways

Very little light GA flies in “heavy” wx, but IAPs get used quite a lot. I have often landed at Le Touquet in OVC005 or similar. All you need is a little bit of IMC in the wrong place…

but still 4-digit installed.

I am still awaiting the sight of an actual installation invoice

I know someone who has just installed a new autopilot in an old Cessna. He is a very able A&P and it still took him a week or two to do the mechanicals. And a servo is a servo…

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I’ve seen a post on a US site reporting that Genesys (which appears to be a trading name of STEC) is offering to produce an STC for the STEC 3100 for the Socata TB. They want 15 orders to do it, apparently. No idea of the cost but if existing options for full-featured certified autopilots are an indicator it will be in the region of 20-40k.

15 orders would thus be worth 300-600k and most people will do an STC for that sort of money In fact a project exploration from some 10-15 years ago indicated that Tornado Alley wanted less than that to do a turbo STC for the TB20.

3100 leaflet

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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