Is it a jet? Is it a turboprop? That’s the question that remains after Socata confirmed here yesterday that it is still pursuing a twin-engine aircraft to augment its product line beyond the TBM 850 turboprop single. Company officials were tight-lipped about details, other than saying that the aircraft, codenamed NTx (NT for New Twin), will be bigger, faster and have two more seats than a TBM 850. The fact that it will be bigger and faster than a TBM confirms the power will come from turbines. The word on the street favors turbofans, but Socata remains coy.
At EBACE in Geneva this past May the company said it expected to make a formal announcement about a twin early next year, but that schedule appears to have slipped. Back in May Socata said it was faced with defining four criteria: first, having a clear idea of the market; second, turboprop or turbofan; third, a sound business plan; and last, “we must increase our investment capacity.”
Company officials here said yesterday that there would likely be no go-ahead by the time EBACE opens its doors next May, and that it is in fact unlikely there will be a launch before the end of 2009.
Socata vice president of general aviation Jacques Lordon suggested, “If you add 20 percent to the TBM 850’s speed and range, you won’t be too far wrong” about the capabilities of the NTx. “It will look quite different from a TBM 850 but it will have some family heritage.” When asked if the price, too, might be 20 percent higher than the TBM 850’s, Lordon said little.