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Garmin Offers ESP Safety Aid to Experimentals for Free
March 11, 2015 - Garmin is now offering its Electronic Stability and Protection-Experimental system (ESP-X) to owners of experimental airplanes as part of its G3X or G3X Touch avionics system. Garmin has been delivering ESP to makers of standard category airplanes for several years. The system continuously monitors the airplane attitude and airspeed looking for unusual pitch and bank angles, or airspeeds closing in on stall or the red line limit. When the preselected limits are exceeded brightly colored command indicators appear on the G3X flat glass display showing the pilot how to recover.
ESP-X also uses the servos of the integrated G3X autopilot to “nudge” the controls in the direction of recovery. The pilot can easily overpower the servo input if he is intentionally flying an unusual maneuver or airspeed, but the stick movement provides subliminal commands that help a distracted pilot recover. The stick nudging becomes less pronounced and urgent, and gradually fades away as the airplane corrects back to a normal attitude and airspeed.
If, after ESP-X, detects an unusual attitude or airspeed the pilot makes no input for 15 seconds the system assumes he has become incapacitated and engages the autopilot to hold wings level. The autopilot will raise the nose automatically to slow from an overspeed, and will gradually trade altitude if necessary to keep low airspeed above the stall. The system disengages within 200 feet of the ground.
Human factors research has shown that when workload goes up for pilots or drivers, or any machine operator for that matter, aural and then visual alerts don’t break through the distraction. But tactile sensations such as a stick shaker, or a nudger in the case of ESP-X, remain effective during high workload periods or distractions. High-end auto makers are using similar vibration warnings to alert drivers of threats from various locations around the car because the vibrating/shaking alerts take no training to comprehend.
Because ESP-X is designed for experimental airplanes, each owner can program the limits he is comfortable with instead of using a preset bank angle or airspeed to trigger the warnings. ESP-X can be turned off for training or intentionally unusual attitude maneuvering.
The best news is that ESP-X is a free software update for owners who have installed the G3X or G3X Touch flat glass avionics system with the Garmin autopilot. For more information and to download the software update, visit Garmin.com/experimental.