Tarbes, France, July 17, 2008 — EADS Socata celebrates this month the 20th anniversary of the first flight of its TBM 700 – the world’s fastest single-turboprop aircraft that opened a new era in business aviation.
On July 14, 1988, Chief Test Pilot Bernard Dorance and Flight Test Engineer Jean Piatek performed the TBM 700’s maiden takeoff, initiating a 1-hr. 15 min. evaluation flight that demonstrated the aircraft’s excellent flying qualities.
The TBM 700 represented an entirely new design at the time, combining high speed and performance with the efficiency of a turboprop engine. This prototype was very similar externally to EADS Socata’s follow-on TBM 850, which is continuing the aircraft’s international success. The TBM 700 prototype was initially powered by a 700-shp (522 kW) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-40 turboprop with a single exhaust stack replaced later by the more efficient PT6A-64 version with a stack on each side of the fuselage.
"At 20, a human being is at the flower of his prime; at 20, the TBM aircraft family is demonstrating the strength of its maturity while enjoying the vigor of youth,” said Jean-Michel Léonard, EADS Socata’s Chairman and CEO. “The TBM’s creators were visionaries who foresaw the promise of launching the first pressurized turboprop-powered aircraft – which has been largely responsible for taking EADS Socata to its current position in the business aviation industry.” As the TBM 700’s successor, the TBM 850 is marking another record sales year in 2008, underscoring its potential to meet the evolving needs of faithful customers, as well as those of future users, Leonard added.
The TBM was developed to replace medium twin-engine piston aircraft that were the backbone of business aviation, but which were considered slow and fuel-hungry, while jets were beyond reach of the majority of customers. With the TBM 700, a new opportunity opened up for a fast, capable and efficient aircraft with a 6-7-seat capacity and a sturdy low-wing airframe produced in aluminum and steel.
Official roll-out of the TBM 700 occurred on June 13, 1988 in the presence of former astronaut Frank Borman and Muriel Hermine, four times European champion in synchronized swimming.
Two years later, the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency awarded a type certificate on August 28, 1990 to the first civilian pressurized turboprop, and the keys of TBM 700 serial no. 1 were handed over to its owner at the 1990 National Business Aviation Association convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.
"In 2008, we will celebrate this 20th anniversary milestone at the EAA AirVenture show Oshkosh, Wisconsin beginning on July 28, taking the opportunity with our customers and the entire TBM pilot community to look back at what has been accomplished – and to reflect on what lies ahead," explained Nicolas Chabbert, the President of EADS Socata North America. ”In almost a century of aviation, EADS Socata has overcome many challenges, and the company has truly made its mark in aviation history.”
About EADS Socata (www.socata.eads.net)
EADS Socata is one of the world’s leading general aviation manufacturers, with more than 17,000 aircraft built since its creation as Morane-Saulnier in 1911. Current products include the TBM family of high-speed turboprops, TB GT piston aircraft, aerostructures for Airbus civil airliners, the A400M military transporter, Dassault Falcon jets, Eurocopter helicopters and Embraer regional jets. EADS Socata is expanding its customer service activities, to support its growing fleet of TBM and offer its light aviation expertise for aircraft below 5.7 metric tons through avionics modernization, maintenance, repair and overall package offers. Headquartered in Tarbes, France, with North American operations in Pembroke Pines, Florida, EADS Socata is a wholly-owned subsidiary of EADS group.
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