EADS Socata is to roll out later today the first Garmin G1000 glass cockpit-equipped TBM 850 as the Tarbes, France-based manufacturer prepares to ramp up production of the single-engine turboprop this year by 30%.
The seven-seat, high-performance TBM850 will be shipped to USA and handed over to an unnamed launch customer on 24 January.
This latest model is priced at $ 2.93 million and also incorporates larger fuel tanks, boosting capacity by 42 litres (11USgal) and the aircraft´s range to more than 2,590km (1,400nm).
"We have always listened to our customers and have announced a series of product changes to the TBM line over the years to meet their demands," says Socata vice-president of general aviation Jacques Lordon.
The first version - the 700A - entered service in 1991 powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-64 engine. This was succeeded in 1999 by the introduction of the B model, which incorporated a wide access door as standard and an optional pilot access door.
Three years later the 700C2 was launched, offering a rear unpressurised cargo compartment, reinforced structure, new air conditioning system and an increased maximum take off weight.
The 850 followed in 2006 incorporating a more powerful PT6A-66D turboprop engine. To date more than 400s TBMs have entered service.
The Garmin-equipped 850 has proved very popular, Lordon says. "Even with the conventional avionics we were producing 42 aircraft a year in 2006 and 46 in 2007. We are planning to produce 60 aircraft this year and have sold out already," he says.
He attributes the success of the 850 to its "exceptional performance, handling characteristics and low fuel consumption. Around three-quarters of 850 sales are from North American-based customers, bucking a current business aviation industry trend. Lordon says there is also increasing sales activity within international markets.
"We have increased our presence in key markets including Australia and Brazil where general aviation is perceived as an essential business tool. Europe is also a growing market despite a reluctance by the regulators to relax single-engine instrument flight rules for commercial operators," he says.