Tips for Getting the Most Out of the S-TEC Autopilot

Genesys Aerosystems has made a name for itself for producing and distributing exceptional forward-fit autopilot systems for small- and mid-sized aircraft. Most recently, Genesys released the S-TEC 3100 Digital Flight Control System (DFCS), which is a fully-featured, attitude-based autopilot that reduces the workload of aircraft operators and increases the safety of the flight.

The S-TEC 3100 is compatible with the digital sources and EFIS displays offered by Garmin, Aspen, and other autopilot providers. The S-TEC autopilot system delivers unparalleled benefits, including:

  • Precise, digital flight control for every phase of a flight
  • 2-axis, with a 3-axis option for certain models
  • Automatic trim
  • Envelope protection and alerting
  • Straight and level recovery
  • Precision approaches and missed approaches
  • Indicated airspeed hold (additional equipment may be required for this for certain configurations)
  • Altitude preselect (additional equipment may be required for this for certain configurations)

The S-TEC 3100 is currently certified for a number of aircraft, including:

  • Aviat A-1C-180, & A-1C-200 (serial number 3301 and above)
  • Beechcraft Bonanza 35*, A35*, B35*, C35*, D35*, E35*, F35, G35*, H35, J35, K35, M35, N35, P35, S35, V35, V35A, V35B, 36, A36, A36TC & B36TC
  • Beechcraft Baron/TravelAir 95-55, 95-A55, 95-B55, 95-B55A, 95-B55B, 95-C55, 95-C55A, D55, D55A, E55, E55A, 56TC, A56TC, 58, 58A, 58P, 58PA, 58TC, 58TCA, 95, B95, B95A, D95A, E95
  • Beechcraft King Air 65-90, 65-A90, 65-109-1, 65-A90-4, B90, C90, C90A, C90GT, E90, F90, H90,100, A100, A100A, A100-1, B100, 200, 200C, 200T, A200, A200CT (excluding serial number FE-1 and above), B200, B200C, B200CT, and B200T
  • Beechcraft 1900, 1900C, & 1900C (C-12J)*
  • Cessna 177, 177A, 177B, 177RG & F177RG
  • Cessna 182D through 182T, F182P, F182Q, R182, T182, T182T, TR182, & FR182
  • Cessna 210, 210A, 210B, 210C, 210D, 210E, 210F, T210F, 210G, T210G, 210H, T210H, 210J, T210J, 210K, T210K, 210L, T210L, 210M, T210M, 210N, T210N, 210R, T210R, P210N, & P210R
  • Cessna T303, 310D through 310R, T310P, T310Q, T310R, 320B through F, 335, 340, & 340A
  • Cessna 414, 414A, 421, 421A, 421B, 421C, & 425
  • de Havilland Canada/Viking Air DHC-6-100, DHC-6-200, DHC-6-300
  • Pilatus PC-6/B1-H2*, PC-6/B2-H2*, PC-6/B2-H4*, PC-6/B-H2*, PC-6/C-H2*
  • Piper PA-24-180*, PA-24-250*, PA-24-260*, PA-24-400*
  • Piper PA-31, PA-31-300, PA-31-325, PA-31-350, PA-31P-350, PA-31P, PA-31T, PA-31-T1, PA-31-T2
  • Piper PA-32-260, PA-32-300, PA-32R-300, PA-32RT-300, PA-32RT-300T, PA-32-301, PA-32-301T, PA-32-301FT, PA-32-301XTC, PA-32R-301, & PA-32R-301T
  • Piper PA-46-310P, PA-46-350P, PA-46-500TP, & PA-46R-350T
  • Piper Aerostar PA-60-600, PA-60-601, PA-60-601P, & PA-60-602P
  • Twin Commander 695*, 695A*, 690*, 690A*, 690B*, 690C*, 690D*, 680D*, 680W*, 681*, 500*,500-A*, 500-B*, 500-S*, 500-U*, 560A*, 560E*, & 560F*

*Pending EASA certification

While most autopilots and digital flight control systems are similar, each brand has subtle variances that are important to understand before an owner or operator ever takes off. Not to mention, there are tried and true tips for getting the most out of your S-TEC autopilot.

Set the Heading Bug First

Pilots tend to forget to set the heading bug to the direction they are wanting to fly. So, when the HDG is pressed, the autopilot will reset to the last direction the heading bug was set to. Such a small oversight can cause a big inconvenience and unnecessary work when the steps aren’t followed in the correct order.

Watch Your Airspeed

While flying with the S-TEC autopilot engaged, your airspeed could drop if the aircraft is going after a glide slope or vertical speed. Mechanically, the autopilot’s job is to only focus on hitting the marker that it’s set to hit, which means that airspeed is never a consideration. That’s why it’s so important to monitor your airspeed at all times. Flying into a headwind could also impact airspeed while the autopilot is engaged.

Stabilize Your Approach Airspeed

On your approach, keep your airspeed slightly faster than what is considered “normal” as autopilots tend to be more stable with more airflow across the flaps, rudder, and trim. During your approach, the autopilot will be working through the descent and ensuring it hits its marks as you get closer to landing, so consistent airspeed is important.

Turn Off Your Autopilot for Hand Flying

If you move the yoke while the autopilot is engaged in a Pitch mode (VS, IAS, ALT hold, or GS), the system will recognize an outside influence and work to overcorrect it. For example, if you push the yoke forward, the auto trim will drive the trim tab “nose up”. If held for a longer period of time, it could cause a pitch up if the controls are released. If you want to override the autopilot, it’s a best practice to disengage the autopilot rather than simply take over the controls. 

Flight in Good Weather and Try All Modes

It’s better to become accustomed to all autopilot modes when you’re flying in good weather as opposed to trying the modes out the first time in difficult weather.

Read the Pilot Operating Handbook

All autopilots work the same, but the layouts tend to be different and how they interact with other flight systems can differ as well. That’s why it’s so important to read the pilot operating handbook before ever setting foot in the aircraft to familiarize yourself with all of the intricacies of your new system. Then, once you have a basic understanding of how the S-TEC is laid out, go over the handbook again while sitting in your aircraft in the hangar. This will help you become more comfortable with the button layout, operation, and how your autopilot system works.

Talk with an Avionics Technician

After you review your pilot operating handbook, talk with a knowledgeable avionics technician who has experience with your particular autopilot system.

Winner Aviation is excited and proud to announce that we are now an official S-TEC autopilot dealer. We will be able to assist you with purchasing, installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of your S-TEC autopilot system.

Contact us today to discuss the benefits of choosing an S-TEC digital flight system for your aircraft.


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