On February 24, 2023 I left from Falcon Field (KFFC, Peachtree City, GA) with the fully-completed instrument panel upgrade in my Bonanza. I had gotten a good preview of the new capabilities since November, but the FAA’s final approval of Aspen’s new software facilitating the digital autopilot interface with the GF600 only came about a month ago. Meaning that I had been using the GFC600 only with an analog interface to the Aspen PFD, which isn’t bad but leaves some of the advanced capabilities unused. Not any more!
Gardner Lowe, the fine avionics shop at Falcon Field, completed the digital connection between Aspen and the GFC600 and updated the software in both units. That paved the way for several improvements, the three most notable ones being:
- Altitude preselect: the GFC600 now does a wonderful job leveling off smoothly and precisely at the altitude target selected on the Aspen PFD.
- Native GPSS support: prior to the digital interface, I could use GPSS on the Aspen PFD. But it was a big of a bandaid solution – for example, I could previously not fly (using GPSS) a heading to intercept an airway, because the GFC600 had to be in HDG mode for both. Now I can arm NAV on the GFC600 with the airway loaded in my flight plan. All the annunciations on the GFC600 are correct now and make sense with the digital interface.
- The Aspen PFD and GFC600 take care of all the little altitude changes resulting from new altimeter settings on a cross country flight.
I am excited to have N70TB back at home after almost 14 months. The panel is everything I was hoping it would be. Gardner Lowe did a phenomenal job with the metal work, cutting and etching a new panel and installing all the hardware and wiring, plus the configuration effort which is far from trivial.