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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedGarmin Ups the Safety Margin
New stability system brings safety benefits
By J. Mac McClellan
Yesterday at EAA AirVenture 2010, Garmin introduced a new stability augmentation system for incorporation into its G1000 and G3000 integrated flight decks to help prevent a pilot from losing control of the airplane.

Garmin calls the system its electronic stability and protection system (ESP) and said the new capability will prevent the onset of stalls and spins, steep spirals and other loss-of-control conditions should the pilot become distracted, disoriented or incapacitated during flight.

“Until today, this type of stability augmentation system has only been available on fly-by-wire aircraft that cost millions of dollars,” said Gary Kelley, Garmin’s vice president of marketing.

“We’re thrilled to be the first to make this safety enhancing technology available to business and general aviation pilots.”

The Garmin G1000 and G3000 systems are so fully integrated into the aircraft that Garmin realized it could add the ESP capability, which continuously tracks the airplane’s attitude, airspeed, G-loading and other parameters. While ESP is new and sophisticated technology, it actually builds on safety systems that came before.

For example, the Learjet 20 and 30 models all have stick pushers that move the elevator to prevent an approaching stall. They also have a stick puller that raises the nose to prevent an overspeed. These are very basic “on-off” systems, but ESP is a smart safety system that can move the ailerons and elevator to recover from unusual attitudes, not just prevent stalls or overspeeds.

If, for whatever reason, the airplane approaches a risky attitude or airspeed, ESP automatically begins to move the controls to correct the situation.

For example, if the airplane banks beyond 45 degrees, ESP will return the attitude to a more normal 30 degrees. It also will control the pitch attitude and airspeed. The pilot will feel the controls moving in the proper direction for recovery, but if for some reason he wants to maintain that unusual attitude, he can choose to simply overpower the ESP or disengage it.

If the airplane is slowing toward stall, ESP will lower the nose. It also will raise the nose if airspeed nears the limit—even when the autopilot is not engaged.

Most importantly, ESP will not overpower a pilot, and he or she can uncouple it at any time.

Until it’s disengaged, however, ESP will manipulate flight controls to recover the airplane to a normal attitude and speed.

Garmin said it is doing initial development work in the Beech King Air 200 equipped with the G1000 system and expects to certify it later this year. In a related announcement, Cirrus said all of its piston singles equipped with Garmin’s Perspective avionics system will also have ESP once it is certified.

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