Daher-Socata’s TBM 900 is making its EBACE debut this week here in Geneva, just two months after the upgraded turboprop single was unveiled at the manufacturer’s factory in Tarbes, France. The aircraft at the EBACE static display, registered as D-FRAS, was the seventh TBM 900 to be delivered when it was handed over to Rheinland Air Service on April 10.
As of late last month, nine TBM 900s had been delivered and the backlog for the rest of 2014 stands at 38, meaning 47 of the new turboprops will be shipped this year. 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 even publicly unveiled on March 12.
Winglets, a new tail-cone 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 (Stand 1643) said customers have been “very 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 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’s top cruise speed has increased by 10 knots, to 330 knots at FL280, and maximum range with a 45-minute reserve has been extended from 1,585 nm to 1,730 nm with five passengers thanks to a fuel consumption reduction to 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 ground roll is reduced by 460 feet, to 2,380 feet, at sea level. Meanwhile, an improved climb rate enables the turboprop to reach its 31,000-foot ceiling in 18 minutes 45 seconds, about two minutes quicker than in the TBM 850.
Developed in Secret
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 unveiling, and those who placed orders did so without seeing the aircraft. Despite being given only basic performance data and the selling price ($3.7 million), the company took orders for 40 TBM 900s before the public unveiling in Tarbes.
First delivery to launch customer Larry Glazer of Rochester, N.Y., who owns 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, Florida. 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.
And the company apparently has plans for growth beyond the TBM 900. Patrick Daher, CEO of Socata’s parent company Daher, revealed at the March 20 event that Daher-Socata is “looking to acquire additional manufacturing capabilities in the U.S.” Asked by AIN to elaborate, he said that the company wants to buy an existing aerostructures company within the next year. Daher noted that “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.”