Will Socata survive the arrival of Very Light Jets?
“That’s a question we get a lot,” said Stephane Mayer, president of the French aircraft manufacturer, on opening day of Sun ‘n Fun. “But as the order book for the TBM 850 grows, less people are asking that.”
While the buzz in the industry is about VLJs, such as the Eclipse 500, Adam A700, Cessna Mustang and more, Socata officials think that single-engine turboprops, like the TBM 850, which was launched in December, offer the “ideal solution” for personal travel.
“Jets burn more fuel and have less range,” Mayer noted. “They also need to fly high, so they compete with the airlines for airspace.
“The TBM 850 is the result of simple thinking — that a faster TBM would better address the owner-flown market,” he continued.
The plane can fly at a maximum speed of 320 knots, he noted. It can climb to 31,000 feet in 20 minutes and fly 1,500 nm in long-range cruise.
Socata officials have been busy in the last several months refining the company’s dealer network. The newest dealer is Northwest Aircraft, a division of Intermountain Air, which will be a Socata distributor and service center for Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. As an authorized Piper distributor, Intermountain Air has been selling and servicing business aircraft for more than 35 years. Northwest Aircraft is based at Aurora State Airport in Oregon.
Other distributors include New Avex Inc. (California, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah), Cutter Aviation (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana), Muncie Aviation (Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois), Columbia Aircraft Sales (New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Eastern Canada), and Elliott Aviation (Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska).