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March 27, 2012
By Jim Moore
The 2012 edition of the Socata TBM 850 turboprop includes a cavernous cargo space, expanded by removal of the aft-most seats from the standard six-seat configuration. It comes with a word of caution from Socata North America President Nicolas Chabbert: “If you load this, you better rent the right vehicle,” Chabbert said, introducing the updated model to visitors at Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland, Fla.
The $3.4 million list price for a typical configuration is a modest climb, about 2 percent, and Socata is offering a few other perks to buyers of the 320 KTAS turboprop. Recognizing that the typical owner—entrepreneurs account for much of the current ownership group—has a yen for travel to far-flung locales, Socata has made available an optional satellite telephone (voice and data) into the Garmin G1000-based panel. Globetrotters can get a near-real-time check on position, along with weather information displayed on the integrated glass.
Socata has also beefed up the warranty, covering scheduled maintenance for up to five years or 1,000 hours, with warranty extensions also available.
“This is not a Mickey Mouse exclusive maintenance program,” Chabbert said.
Private owners with money to spend and decision-making power have helped Socata maintain production through the downturn, and the TBM 850 continues to draw upgrade interest. Chabbert said the company is confident demand will continue to be healthy.
As for a brand-new model, a true replacement for the TBM 850, Chabbert said much of the work has been done, but Daher-Socata needs a partner willing to invest, or collaborate, to make it happen. There is no timeline for that to be accomplished.
“It will take whatever it takes,” Chabbert said.
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
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