Socata introduces Garmin G1000 cockpit on TBM 850

 - February 27, 2008, 5:48 AM

The single-engine turboprop TBM 850 is now available with an upgraded cockpit, based on the Garmin G1000 avionics suite, the French manufacturer announced in January. The rationalized information display stands to improve pilots’ situational awareness. Now the panel of the TBM 850 looks like that of the Cessna Citation Mustang very light jet, which is also based on the G1000, but Socata has customized the system to its six-seater.

Socata engineers used three displays–two 10-inch primary flight displays (PFD) and a 15-inch multifunction display (MFD). The layout is what one would expect for this suite; “short-term information is on the PFDs and long-term information on the MFD,” Dominique Acquaviva, head of Socata’s avionics department, told AIN.

The effort to improve safety involved presenting information more clearly and making the man-machine interface more intuitive. Moreover, redundancy is now available on all primary sensors. In addition to backup instruments, two attitude and two speed indication systems undergo cross-monitoring.

Acquaviva, a former Dassault employee, conceded that the suite in the TBM 850 employs some of the principles of the Falcon’s EASy flight deck. For example,
the TBM’s cockpit features synoptic views of some systems. One shows the fuel system, another shows the electrical system and the last one, more general, shows the de-icing system and door status (closed or open), among other information. Another customization is the integration of flight-manual computation charts into the system, enabling the crew to make calculations (such as torque) more easily.

Pilots will also find improvements in the engine indication and crew alert system. For example, the system warns the pilot if the inter-turbine temperature approaches a given limit. Should the exceedance actually happen, it is recorded along with other engine parameters. “This helps maintenance technicians checking whether there was a real exceedance,” Acquaviva explained.

Trend monitoring is now part of the system, too. Data is stored on a small memory card (an SD card) that can be retrieved for processing in a service center. More integration in the avionics also allows a smarter use of alerts. The fuel pressure warning light remains unlit when the aircraft is on the ground and the engine is not running.

On the map display, the pilot can elect to show speed and altitude in metric
units in addition to the standard imperial. This feature has been introduced for the Russian market.

However, the Honeywell/Dassault EASy flight deck takes such customization much farther than the new TBM cockpit, Acquaviva said. The electronic checklist on the turboprop, for example, is not interactive, and the latest Falcon cockpits look more like Windows.

According to Acquaviva, Socata cooperated so closely with Garmin that only one TBM prototype was necessary, instead of the two Socata was prepared to dispatch. Flight testing began in July 2006 in Tarbes. The aircraft was then ferried to Garmin headquarters in Olathe, Kan., in October. In January 2007, Socata test pilots flew it back to France. At that time, the autopilot was “practically completed.”

The latest version of the TBM has a WAAS receiver, RVSM capability, an enhanced mode-S transponder and Garmin’s SafeTaxi, among other features.