July 26, 2011
By Thomas A. Horne
Daher-Socata, manufacturers of the TBM series of turboprop singles, said July 25 in a press conference that it is continuing to evaluate the former Grob SPn business jet. The SPn project was acquired by the company in 2009, with the intention of perhaps adding it to the existing fleet of current-production TBM 850s. An Spn prototype crashed during a 2006 flight test when owned by Grob, temporarily ending the program.
Daher-Socata has made no secret of its plans to offer an as-yet unnamed twin engine sometime in the near future, but the company is sketchy on details. The upcoming twin-engine project, dubbed the NTx (for “New Twin with x seats”) might be the SPn design, which is an all-composite, 450-knot, six- to eight-seat aircraft. Or it may be a turboprop twin. Either way, the new airplanes will be offered in addition to the TBM 850.
Daher-Socata is conducting flight and marketing tests of the SPn, but company officials declined to disclose the results of those tests, saying only that a decision to proceed with the project will be made by the end of 2011.
In other news, Daher-Socata announced an expanded, five-year/1,000-hour warranty program for its TBM 850s. The new warranty will cover virtually all the airplane’s systems, including flap actuators, landing gear components, bleed air systems, oxygen systems, and starter-generators. To commemorate the company’s 100th year of producing airplanes (begun in 1911 under the Morane-Saulnier name) special plaques and embossed lettering will the added to the interiors of 2011 airplanes.
In addition, the company has begun offering retrofits of Garmin G1000 avionics suites in TBM 700A and 700B airplanes, and announced that a Garmin G500 retrofit package has been developed for the TB series of piston singles. The first 37 such retrofits have been ordered by a French state-owned flying school.
Attending the press conference was Wei Chen, a Chinese TBM 700 owner who exports Boeing and Airbus parts to China and lives in Memphis, Tenn. Chen is the first Chinese pilot to circumnavigate the world, the first to fly across China, and the first general aviation pilot to land at the Beijing airport—and he did it all in his TBM. (See “ Into China: Historic GA flight a success”.)
Chen was on hand to promote the AOPA-China Summit, an event aimed at promoting GA interests in China and networking opportunities among government, military, and international and domestic GA organizations and customers. The International Council of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations will be on hand at the AOPA-China Summit, as well as representatives of AOPA-China. The event is scheduled for Sept. 21 through 25.
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
Thomas A. Horne flies the ultimate personal turboprop. Video by Mike Fizer.
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