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New Display Panel Unveiled for Yingling Ascend 172

Remanufactured Cessna features Garmin’s new GFC 500 autopilot

By James Wynbrandt

July 23, 2017 - Yingling Aviation’s Ascend 172 on display at the Garmin exhibit tent (322-338, 339-345) at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017 is sporting a new avionics suite, anchored by Garmin’s recently announced solid-state, attitude-based GFC 500 autopilot.

The updated panel on N172US also incorporates dual Garmin G5 Electronic Flight Instruments, a GMA 350 audio panel, GTN 650 GPS/nav/comm, GNC 255A nav/comm, and GTX 345 ADS-B in/out transponder. The Ascend’s GFC 500 is actually a mock-up, but Garmin says the STC for the installation is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter.

“We are trying to bring the latest technology into the cockpit,” said Lynn Nichols, CEO of the Wichita, Kansas-based Yingling, whose Ascend 172s are remanufactured C172s. “The Ascend 172 we currently have for sale at Oshkosh is fully equipped and compliant with all NextGen air traffic requirements and still considerably less expensive to acquire and operate than new factory models.”

The Ascend here at Wittman Regional Airport is also outfitted with exterior LED lighting and optional wheel fairings, and painted in Yingling’s signature scheme: Snow White base color, Granite Gray, and tan stripes. All Ascends are custom equipped, and prices vary accordingly.

Garmin designed the GFC 500, aimed at the less-complex end of the piston single market, to interface with its G5 electronic flight instrument. The dual G5 installation on the Ascend 172 offers reversionary display capability and added redundancy. It’s also easy to install as a drop-in replacement for primary attitude and/or directional gyros in type-certificated fixed-wing aircraft.

Development of the unit is “a direct response to customers who have been asking us for an autopilot for the retrofit market that shares the GFC 700’s DNA,” said Jim Alpiser, Garmin’s director of aviation worldwide aftermarket sales. The G5 electronic flight instrument “has provided modern ‘glass cockpit’ reference to thousands of aircraft that would otherwise depend on older, vacuum-driven equipment,” he added. “Now, with the addition of the GFC 500 and 600 autopilots, we plan to take this technology as far into general aviation as possible, tailoring autopilot solutions to all of GA.”

GFC 500 installations on lighter and more basic GA airframes will make use of the system’s standard manual trim, but optional automatic electric pitch trim is available with the installation of an additional trim servo. The GFC 500 is priced at $6,995, and the total system price for an installation like the Ascend’s, including a G5 flight instrument, will be less than $10,000 before installation, according to Garmin. 

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