Singapore Air Show

TBM 850 challenges very light jets

 - December 6, 2006, 9:58 AM

EADS Socata (Stand A701) is here at Asian Aerospace to persuade anyone who is thinking about a step into the very light jet age to consider instead its new TBM 850 high-performance turboprop single. The $2.8 million aircraft completed U.S. certification last month, just six weeks after the European manufacturer sought approval for the more powerful, faster derivative of the TBM 700.

First deliveries to customers are due to be made by the end of this month. European certification was achieved at the end of November. Three weeks ago, on January 27, the first production example took to the air and in a two-hour five-minute sortie it achieved its max cruise altitude of 31,000 feet, max cruise speed, and high speed descents at its max operating speed.

The six-seat TBM 850 is powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PT6A-66D engine and promises a max cruise speed of 320 knots at FL260. The new model has been designed to face off against the new generation very light jets (VLJs) on the premise that it is not much slower, while offering significantly lower operating costs.

According to Socata, a  typical VLJ (unnamed but thought to be the Cessna Citation Mustang) will beat the new TBM by just seven minutes on a 500-nm trip. “But the direct operating costs [DOCs] will increase by 50 percent,” Stephane Bernard, vice president sales and marketing, claimed.

The TBM 850’s DOC is said to be close to $300 per hour. On a 1,200-nm trip, flown at FL410 and long-range cruise speed of 298 knots by the “typical” VLJ, the TBM 850 could actually save 11 minutes thanks to its higher cruise speed (315 knots at FL310), Bernard asserted. The DOC advantage would remain the same.

Although it retains the same four-blade Hartzell propeller, the TBM 850 is fitted with a more powerful engine. The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66D turboprop is flat-rated to 850 shp, compared with the TBM 700’s PT6A-64 flat-rated to 700 shp. It also improves cruise performance retention at altitude and in hot conditions.

According to Socata, the two aircraft have the same internal and external dimensions and are nearly identical in weights, with the TBM 850 able to carry an extra 60 pounds of payload with maximum fuel. NBAA IFR range is also similar: the TBM 850 can fly 1,519 nm at long-range cruise speed (ISA conditions, mtow, no wind, 45-minute fuel reserve).

As Socata already has 27 orders for the new TBM, it plans to ramp up production to 40 examples of the new model. The TBM 850 replaces the TBM 700C2.