LAST DECEMBER, EADS SOCATA ANNOUNCED THE TBM 850, an upgraded version of its single-engine turboprop TBM 700. After some 15 years of production, three different models and more than 300 airplanes, the 700 has been replaced on the production line by the TBM 850. Featuring a 1,825-shp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-66D turboprop engine flat rated to 850 shp, the TBM 850 turns in impressive numbers. At maximum takeoff weight, the 850 can climb to FL 260 in 15 minutes and to its service ceiling of FL 310 in 20 minutes. At FL 260 the 850's cruise speed at maximum cruise power is 320 ktas. IFR cruising range is 1,365 nm. At FL 310 and ISA +20°C, the 850's cruise speed is more than 55 knots faster than that of the TBM 700 C2.
Although described by Socata as the "Ultimate Personal Aircraft," from the performance speci. cations, it might more accurately be dubbed the "VLJ Killer." While offering performance numbers that virtually match-and in some cases even exceed-those of the emerging twin-engine very light jets, the TBM 850 will have several advantages including a significant reduction in direct operating costs, longer-range capability that will eliminate the need for intermediate fuel stops, a reduction in transition training requirements and potentially lower insurance premiums.
Socata is confident that the 850 will be a popular addition to its product line as evidenced by the fact that even before its official introduction more than two-thirds of 2006's production had already been sold. First delivery to a U.S. customer is slated to occur on February 23, 2006. Base price of the TBM 850 is $2,576,930; with typical options and equipped for RVSM the airplane will list at $2,799,850, roughly $120,000 more than the TBM 700.