Technology has been expanding since the first flight of the Wright Brother’s aircraft and seems to be advancing at faster and faster rates. Just look at the last 15 years with the advancements of personal jets, advanced avionics, and possibly pilotless taxis. (See an earlier blog on my opinion of that prospect). One of the nice things about advanced technology is the ease of adding new features and functionality to your selected device, be it your iPhone, laptop, or avionics.
Even better is that most of these can be installed at your home or approved avionics shop. Software updates magically transform your hardware into a newer and more functional system in a matter of minutes or hours, depending on the depth of the changes.
These upgrades to critical systems not only deliver the most up-to-date functionality, but it also helps protect the owner’s avionics investment. With planned updates, an avionics manufacturer can keep improving their systems well past the time when older avionics would have to have been replaced. A win-win if there ever was one.
As most of you know, we released a new digital, attitude-based autopilot, the popular S-TEC 3100 Digital Flight Control System over eighteen months ago. Since then, we have diligently been working on improved performance in-flight and capabilities of the autopilot, which has culminated in a new release of software, Version 1.3. Version 1.3 delivers several significant performance improvements to what is already a very capable autopilot.
Highlights of the S-TEC 3100 Version 1.3 upgrade include:
• Reset on Takeoff in FD or TOGA Mode: Per the upgrade, the FD/TOGA functionality will no longer reset the autopilot during takeoff, which was experienced on certain aircraft configurations.
• LPV Lateral Offsets: Some GPS Navigators were found to have an offset between the GPS Steering output data and the displayed GPS track (magenta Line) during LPV approaches. Version 1.3 software allows the 3100 autopilot to calculate an internal roll steering command to null any offsets while in APRGPSS mode.
• Mode display improvements: Updates to the mode display during Navigation source changes.
• Vertical Speed sync updates: Upgrade features improvements to dual board 3100 systems, which synchronize the VS targets on each board to prevent unintentional autopilot disconnects.
• Bank Angle Limit: Upgrade limits the autopilot to a standard rate turn (three-degrees per second) based on Indicated Airspeed to improve flight comfort. This is noticeable in HDG mode at slower speeds.
• Envelope Protection Updates:
• Underspeed protection with de-icing systems: The 3100 will be able to monitor a discrete input from the aircraft de-icing system to allow different speed thresholds for the underspeed protection engaging. Requires a fight-into-known-icing (FIKI) kit, which can be purchased from Genesys Aerosystems.
• Underspeed protection during an approach: Once the 3100 autopilot has captured the glideslope, active underspeed protection will still be active until the aircraft has descended 1000 feet below that capture point. At this point, the passive underspeed aural warnings will be active only, and the autopilot will not pitch down to maintain airspeed.
• Flight Director only during an approach: If the Flight Director (FD) is engaged only, and the autopilot (AP) disengaged, aural warnings for overspeed and underspeed will be inhibited.
• NAV intercept: Upgrade improves course intercept and capture performance to better account for crosswinds.
• VS/IAS bug behavior: Upgrade features improvements to always sync to external VS/IAS bugs if they are in the correct direction compared to the desired altitude target. Installation without external VS/IAS bugs available will sync to 500fpm in the direction of the desired altitude target.
• Altitude capture improvements: Upgrade enables smoother transition when capturing an altitude during a steep intercept.
As always, the Version 1.3 software upgrade, along with support documentation, is free to S-TEC 3100 autopilot owner/operators. The upgrade also qualifies for one-hour of warranty reimbursement when the work is done through an authorized avionics shop. Please call your authorized Genesys Aerospace dealer to schedule your upgrade appointment.
Because the Version 1.3 upgrade is configured for each specific aircraft’s installation timing of each individual release will be over the next few weeks. The sooner you place your order with your dealer, the higher priority for shipment you will receive. Because the upgrade is customized, it should only be used on that airframe with the specific avionics installation.
We look forward to any owner’s feedback on the new capabilities of the Version 1.3 software, so please let us know your experience.
Until next time, fly safely,