Socata: What If It's Better Than A Jet?

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Socata's TBM 850 is not a VLJ, but the company says its performance is pretty darn close, and given the lower acquisition and operating costs, the difference is negligible. "No need for a VLJ," says the company's brochure. "Fly smarter with a VFT!" as in, Very Fast Turboprop. The 850 will climb to 26,000 feet in 15 minutes and cruise there at 320 knots. It can carry six people, and will fly 1,500 nm nonstop with four adults on board. The company says it's an easier transition for the owner-pilot than moving into a jet, and saves on insurance. The powerplant of the TBM 850 is Pratt & Whitney Canada's PT6A-66D, which delivers 1,825 eshp flat-rated to 850 shp. Its single-crystal compressor blades enable higher turbine temperatures and that coupled with a new first-stage compressor design gives the TBM 850 its enhanced high-altitude performance, Socata says. The company already has delivered 20 copies of the 850 and has about 50 orders in hand.