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Restoration on a Budget: A New/Used Autopilot

Restoration on a Budget: A New/Used Autopilot

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I recently managed to take care of one of the items on my wish list, and I did so at a significant discount.

April 2015-

Back in the day, all I wanted was a new Nav/Com, a wing leveler and an engine that didn’t leak too much oil.
Times changed, and my wish list got more expensive. Now it includes a new GPS-based flight management system (FMS), a new autopilot with all kinds of GPS-enabled capabilities—and an engine that doesn’t leak too much oil. (Along with a new paint job!)

I’ve recently managed to take care of one of the items on my wish list: the replacement of a 37-year-old autopilot with something modern. I’d been using a Century III autopilot with altitude hold and Nav/GPS/localizer tracking—no glideslope coupler, no altitude preselect, no beep when the autopilot kicked offline. (On the other hand, when the Century III worked, it was amazing.)
After flying with Century III and Century 41 autopilots for over 40 years, I had grown accustomed to this quiet, invisible and completely reliable equipment flying the plane for long hours at a time.

The need for a reliable autopilot
For those of you that have never flown a Seneca, here’s my one-sentence summary of its flying attributes. It is highly stable, but it can be a bear to fly.

That is, it’ll fly for long periods of time on-heading and on-altitude with the autopilot offline, my hands in my lap and my feet flat on the floor. After a while it will slowly drift left or right, up or down. The drift is so slow that if I’m not careful, I’ll bust my altitude and have to account for my poor flying habits. Every few minutes you have to roll left or right a bit, or pitch up or down a bit.

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