Daher-Socata Unveils 330-knot TBM 900

 - April 1, 2014, 6:00 AM
The recently unveiled TBM 900 has a top cruise speed that is 10 knots faster, 330 knots at FL280, than that of the predecessor TBM 850.

Daher-Socata unveiled the latest iteration of its turboprop single, the TBM 900, at company headquarters in Tarbes, France, on March 12. Derived from the TBM 850, itself a variant of the original TBM 700, the new version offers better efficiency and performance without an increase in fuel consumption or engine power, according to the company. The aircraft received both FAA and EASA approval before it was publicly unveiled.

Winglets, a new tailcone and a five-blade composite propeller with redesigned spinner distinguish the TBM 900 externally from its predecessors. From the nose to the firewall the aircraft has been redesigned to improve engine airflow circulation, through use of a banana-shaped air intake, carbon-fiber cowlings and new exhaust stacks.

The new aircraft retains the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66D engine found on the TBM 850, as well as its Garmin G1000 avionics suite. Daher-Socata said customers have been happy with the 850’s Garmin glass cockpit, so it decided to retain the system in the 900. However, the cockpit does include several “enhanced human-machine interface features,” including an ergonomic control yoke and a revised cockpit center pedestal that incorporates single-lever power control.

Other new features include a revamped electrical system with a 300-amp starter generator, which provides a semi-automatic start-up, and 100-amp standby alternator. In addition, the TBM 900 has lower cabin noise levels than its predecessor, an automated pressurization system and new-design seats.

Compared with its predecessor, the TBM 900 has a top cruise speed that is 10 knots faster, 330 knots at FL280, and maximum range with five passengers and a 45-minute reserve has been extended to 1,730 nm from 1,585 nm thanks to reduced fuel consumption of 37 gallons per hour.

Since the TBM 900 can use all of the available 850 shp of engine power on takeoff, compared with 700 shp on the TBM 850, the aircraft’s sea-level ground roll is reduced to 2,380 feet, down by 460 feet. Meanwhile, an improved climb rate takes the new model to its 31,000-foot ceiling in 18 minutes 45 seconds, about two minutes more quickly than the TBM 850.

The TBM 900 was developed on the quiet during a three-year development program that included 200 hours of flight-testing. In fact, it was so secretive that customers were told of the new aircraft only three weeks before the official March 12 unveiling, and those who placed orders did so without seeing it. Despite giving only basic performance data and the selling price ($3.7 million), the company took orders for 40 TBM 900s before the aircraft was publicly unveiled.

First delivery to launch customer Larry Glazer–who owns Rochester, N.Y.-based commercial/industrial real-estate developer Buckingham Properties and is president of the TBM Owners and Pilots Association–took place on March 20 during the TBM 900’s formal U.S. debut at an event in Polk City, Fla. Glazer has logged more than 5,000 hours in TBMs over the past 20 years, starting with TBM 700 S/N 9 in 1994 and then upgrading to a non-glass cockpit TBM 850 in 2008. He had already been in contact with Daher-Socata to upgrade to a G1000-equipped TBM 850, so Glazer didn’t hesitate to say yes when Daher-Socata president and CEO Stéphane Mayer called him to ask if he wanted to be first in line for the new model.

Glazer’s new aircraft (S/N 1003) was one of four TBM 900s displayed at the U.S. unveiling at Kermit Weeks’s Fantasy of Flight museum. The other three were demonstration aircraft that will be available for viewing and demo flights at the Sun ’n’ Fun Fly-In early this month in Lakeland, Fla.

During the U.S. event, Patrick Daher, CEO of Socata parent company Daher, told attendees, “The TBM 900 benefits from the resources of Daher and some $30 million of investment. With the TBM 900, Daher is now a true aircraft manufacturer with full capabilities to manage complex programs, from design and development to production, delivery and after-sales support.”

Daher also revealed that Daher-Socata is “looking to acquire additional manufacturing capabilities in the U.S.” Asked by AIN to elaborate further, he said that the company wants to buy an existing aerostructures company within the next year or so. Daher noted, “All options are on the table,” adding that the only constraint at this point is that the acquisition “would need to be a good fit for Daher-Socata.”