Aspen Avionics to certify GFC 600 autopilot interface

Aspen Avionics unveiled new software this week that will allow its Evolution flight displays to interface with Garmin’s GFC 600 autopilot, without using an adapter. At the July 26 EAA AirVenture show, the company also announced that its Evolution displays no longer require a separate electronic or mechanical backup attitude indicator.

With a single display installation, backup turn and tilt, altimeter and speed indicators are still required, but when two Aspen displays are installed, no separate backup is required. “It eliminates one of the least reliable things on these planes, the vacuum pump [that drives mechanical attitude indicators]said John Uczekaj, President and CEO of Aspen Avionics. “Customers can remove a very unreliable device, save weight and have a reliable screen.”

Aspen expects the new software – v.2.12, priced at $1,995 – to be approved late in the third or early fourth quarter of this year. Garmin will own the STC and Aspen is responsible for maintaining TSO standards. The autopilot interface allows full functionality in Aspen’s primary flight display (PFD), with altitude, vertical speed and airspeed selectable on the PFD or GFC 600 control panel. also includes flight director capability. Other v.2.12 features add extended track axes on multi-function display moving maps; selected altitude/speed output for Trio autopilots; and better auto-brightness levels, which has been requested by customers.

Forming the Advanced Avionics division of Airo Group Holdings, Aspen will play an increasing role in avionics design for the electric aircraft/urban air mobility (UAM) segment. Another Airo division, Electric Air Mobility, is developing the Jaunt Journey slow-rotor compound eVTOL aircraft. Plans call for Airo to achieve certification under existing rotorcraft regulations – both Parts 27 and 29 – for the first time in Canada in 2026. A test aircraft has logged nearly 500 hours and more than 1,000 take-offs and landings.

The Jaunt Journey’s final configuration will see it carry four passengers and a pilot. “Air taxi is going to be a big opportunity,” said Airo board member Joe Burns. The cell is made of thermoplastic materials, which are more easily recyclable. A combination of the idle rotor and a wing means the Journey can land safely after a complete loss of power. Maximum cruising speed will be 175 mph.

The Jaunt team has now completed over 1,000 take-offs and landings with a technology demonstrator, logging over 300 flight hours. The company aims to begin test flights with a pre-production aircraft in late 2023.

“Air taxi is going to be a big market opportunity,” he said. The aircraft will also be able to transport palletized cargo.

At AirVenture this week, Aspen is offering a trade-in program for older screens, with a $500 upgrade incentive and $500 off each new screen ordered. Aspen has managed supply chain issues and is now able to deliver displays in two to three weeks, according to Uczekaj. “We’ve done what I consider an outstanding job with the supply chain and we don’t have long lead times due to supply chain issues.”

Although part of a large holding company with divisions that also serve the military adversary training market and drone operations in addition to UAM and avionics, “Aspen is first and foremost a company general aviation,” Uczekaj said. “It will always be like this. We are deeply rooted in the general aviation space. Technology for other markets will quickly find its way into general aviation markets. This will include traffic avoidance systems , video traffic detection, and other UAM-derived technologies “We should all expect that. The UAM market for general aviation is going to be a conduit, and everyone is gearing up to expand that market.”