TBM 850 Gets FAA Papers

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Jan. 23 saw EADS Socata become the recipient of FAA paperwork granting the agency's type certification to its newest aircraft -- the single-engine turboprop TBM 850 -- only six weeks following its European approval. That same day saw the TBM 850's first production example take to the skies on its maiden flight, an 02:50 affair flown by Christian Briand, chief pilot of EADS Socata, and Alain Arnaud, flight test engineer. Built on the success of the company's TBM 700, the TBM 850 features a maximum cruising speed of 320 KTAS at FL260, edging ever closer to light-jet speeds and blowing the doors off many twin turboprops. The 850 is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66D, delivering 1,825 eshp, and which is flat-rated to 850 shp for the airframe. One of the -66's innovations, according to Socata, is its single-crystal compressor blades, which enable higher turbine temperatures. The Jan. 23 flight of the first production 850 was used to verify production conformity and included tests across the type’s flight envelope, including climbs to its maximum certified altitude of FL310, operation at its maximum cruise speed and descents at its maximum operating speed.

“The launch of the TBM 850 has been extremely well received by both existing and new customers and our growing order book bears this out,” said Stéphane Mayer, chairman and CEO of EADS Socata. “To receive FAA certification and also to see the first production aircraft fly on the same day is more great news for Socata and I applaud the determination and energy of our engineering and certification teams in reaching these two milestones within what was a very tight schedule.” First deliveries of the TBM 850 are planned for February 2006. The new aircraft will be available via EADS Socata’s existing direct sales and distribution network, and will be supported by its extensive worldwide network of service centers.