Introduction of the TBM 850 “very fast turboprop” single to meet the challenge of the VLJ has firmly lifted Socata’s fortunes out of the stagnation that the company endured in 2003 and 2004. The EADS subsidiary delivered 42 TBM 850s last year, a 35-percent improvement on the 31 TBM 700s delivered the previous year. The company also delivered one TBM 700C2, all of which contributed to a revenue increase of 21 percent.
A TBM 700 crashed one mile west of New Bedford Regional Airport in New Bedford, Mass., on February 2, killing all three people aboard. The aircraft carried two pilots–the owner, a low-time private pilot with an instrument rating, and a commercial pilot employed by the owner. IMC prevailed, with a reported ceiling of 200 feet overcast. One of the pilots reported a missed approach on the ILS to Runway 5.
French supermarket tycoon Paul-Louis Halley, who had amassed a personal fortune estimated at $3.75 billion and was listed by Forbes as the 104th richest man in the world, died along with his wife and their pilot in the crash of a Socata TBM 700 (N30LT) at Oxford (Kidlington) Airport (EGTK), UK, on December 6. Inbound from Brussels Airport (EBBR), Belgium, the pilot was conducting an NDB/DME approach to Runway 01 at EGTK.
The FAA last month issued three separate airworthiness alerts on the TBM 700 turboprop single. The alerts, which do not carry the force of ADs, but are “highly recommended” by the FAA, deal with a faulty GPU plug that could damage the power supply cable; possible interference between the pitot-tube supply line and the aileron cable; and corrosion-caused cracks in the attachment fittings of the tail fin.
EADS Socata today unveiled the TBM 850, a slightly faster, re-engined version of its TBM 700 turboprop single. The new model will have a maximum cruise speed of 320 knots, 20 knots faster than its predecessor thanks to a higher-power 1,825-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66D engine (derated to 850 shp). The TBM 700 is powered by a 1,583-shp PT6A-64 derated to 700 shp.
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.
Socata’s owner customer survey shows that 63 percent of typical TBM pilots regularly fly more than 500 nm and 15 percent regularly fly more than 1,000 nm. One of the latter is John Hinshaw, a Frankfort, Indiana-based roofing contractor. The first person to order a TBM 850, Hinshaw has flown his own TBM 700 since July 2003, but says he is looking forward to owning a TBM 850. After visiting Tarbes to inspect work on aircraft No.
EADS Socata is confident that it has the answer to the challenge of the very light jet (VLJ) threat in its latest single turboprop, the six-seat TBM 850. As of the end of April, the new model had clinched 36 firm orders compared to 31 sales of the previous TBM 700C2 version during 2005.
“Handling is good in pitch but a little hard on bank. After a while you get used to it and Socata can easily correct it. The turboprop is comfortable and well equipped in terms of avionics, and pilot visibility is good at all times. It has a very efficient constant-speed propeller and a powerful engine. But it seems to me that the turbine exhaust temperatures were a little bit high at high altitudes and at maximum cruise speed.
BA609–The Bell Agusta BA609 tiltrotor program is progressing on schedule. On July 13, the second BA609 test aircraft (S/N 60002) performed its first ground run at AgustaWestland’s facility in Cameri, Italy. First flight of this aircraft is pending. S/N 60003 is also at the AgustaWestland facility in Cameri and S/N 60004 is on the assembly line at Bell’s plant in Fort Worth, Texas.