International approval of commercial operations by single-engine turbine airplanes at night, in bad weather and over inhospitable terrain, which is now prohibited
in many countries, received a considerable boost with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) operations panel recommendation that such operations
be adopted by the organization’s air navigation committee. According to former FAA Administrator Langhorne Bond, who spoke at EADS Socata’s NBAA press conference last month, worldwide acceptance of such operations will happen very soon after the air navigation committee approves the recommendation.
Although ICAO rules are not mandatory and many countries adopt stricter regulations within their borders, the civil aviation authorities of other countries accept ICAO’s pronouncements virtually verbatim. Therefore, ICAO’s adoption of the changes to the current rules governing single-engine commercial operations under such conditions, which date back to 1948, would likely open numerous new markets for the Socata TBM 700, Pilatus PC-12, Cessna Caravan and other turbo- prop singles, as well as the single-turbofan Diamond D-Jet.
Bond, a principal in a small lobbying group called the Single-engine Turboprop Alliance, which is funded by Socata, Cessna, Pilatus and Piper, said a parallel effort to change JAA rules to permit such operations is ongoing. He expects the new JAA standards will be adopted in the spring of next year.
The ICAO ops panel’s recommendations specified a number of onboard safety items that must be satisfied before a single-turbine airplane can be operated under adverse conditions without emergency-landing availability. These include a GPS program that determines the nearest suitable emergency landing alternative, a radar altimeter and automatic monitoring of engine performance.
Deliveries Up this Year
Also at the press conference, Socata announced that it had delivered 24 TBM 700C2s since the beginning of this year, with 20 of those in the U.S., and expects to deliver 37 by the end of the year. The French company delivered 33 TBM 700s in 2001 and 34 in 2002. On October 1 the company delivered its 250th TBM 700 turboprop single.
According to EADS Socata CEO Stephane Mayer, reduced vertical separation minimums (RVSM) approval of the TBM 700 is expected in the first quarter of next year and retrofit packages will be available in the second quarter. The company is also participating in the Dassault Falcon 7X and Airbus A380 programs.