What It’s Like Flying the Bell 505 with the Game-Changing Garmin GFC G600H Autopilot Feature

Recently, Michael Maya Charles from Vertical Magazine experienced the GFC 600H in the Bell 505 during a Garmin visit in Salem, Oregon. “Garmin first certified the GFC 600H in the Airbus AS350 in 2019,” Charles noted. “But the new version for the Bell 505 is improved in several ways, including better hover capability, better aural warnings, and an important new feature: low-g protection.”

The updated avionics system originated from the industry’s need for reduced pilot workload and a tool to recover from loss of control in low visibility. In the Bell 505, Charles simulated this experience to test its leveling capabilities – finding that the single light aircraft returned to a straight, level position at the press of a button. 

“If you stay at zero groundspeed, the hover assist mode automatically engages and does a brilliant job of holding the helicopter in your desired spot,” said Charles. The pilot also notes that the low-g feature keeps the Bell 505 autopilot flying smoothly by “gently rais[ing] the nose to increase positive g-force if it senses anything below .6g.” These added features enhance pilot experience in the single-engine platform to the point where Charles claims he “can’t imagine ordering a new Bell 505 without it.”

Bell is already fielding orders for the 600H and customers have the option to add it to new 505 orders.