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Socata announces model improvementsSocata announces model improvements

Socata announces model improvements

Socata Aircraft is welcoming the new century with the introduction of a new generation of TB aircraft. At a ceremony February 2 at its Tarbes, France, factory, the company rolled out the first TB 20 GT. Like the rest of the TB line, the Generation Two Trinidad sports a new aerodynamically refined top and a host of other enhancements that provide a bit better performance and about two more inches of headroom to the front and back seat passengers.

The TB 20 GT replaces the standard TB 20; the rest of the product line includes the new TB 9 GT Tampico, the TB 10 GT Tobago, TB 200 GT Tobago XL, and the TB 21 GT Trinidad TC turbocharged model. The TBM 700 single-engine turboprop remains unchanged.

The most significant change includes a new carbon fiber top to the fuselage. The previous composite and aluminum top was squarer and heavier than the new all-composite one. The models also get new all-composite doors but retain the unique gull-wing design. The change permits even larger windows, enhancing visibility in what was already an easy airplane to see out of. The windows are now built into the airframe, eliminating the former black rubber seals. The new dark window frames and rounder top give the airframe a more rakish look. Enhancing the aerodynamics and looks are recontoured wingtips and the addition of a fairing to the horizontal fin/empennage junction. The wing tip and fairing changes help to improve spin characteristics, according to Socata test pilots.

Other aerodynamic improvements to the Trinidads include retraction mechanisms to the air steps on each side and the option of a new three-blade Hartzell propeller with scimitar tips. The overall changes add three to five knots to the typical TB 20 cruise speed, giving it a top cruise of about 160 knots, according to Socata. Besides the additional headroom, pilots will also appreciate the new larger baggage door that replaces the original models’ small triangular one.

A well-equipped TB 20 GT lists for $352,000, about two percent more than last year’s model. Prices for the other models will be announced later.

February 4, 2000

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