Daher Celebrates Milestone TBM Deliveries, Kodiak Success

The OEM debuted the Kodiak 900 last year and deliveries have just begun.

Daher has donated use of a Kodiak 100 to the Recreational Aviation Foundation to support its nonprofit remote airstrip conservation work. [Courtesy: Daher]

With five-blade Hartzell composite props featured on a trio of its turboprop models on display at EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh, Daher has a vested interest in dispelling myths surrounding the use of these advanced materials over traditional aluminum blades. It certainly was convincing to watch bird strike video during its press conference at the show—carefully chosen to demonstrate the worst-use case—at takeoff power, near rotation speed, overtaking an avian friend on the roll. 

The point made? The composite structure is no more fragile than a similar aluminum prop, with the same ground-handling operations and repair categories as well. And the performance gains shown by the transition to the new props on its TBM 960, Kodiak 900, and Kodiak 100 Series III models prove their worth. “We are getting lighter weight,” said Nicolas Chabbert, senior vice president of Daher’s Aircraft Division, “and, of course, the low noise and vibration is something that we’re particularly interested in, on the highest power output on the Kodiak 900,” where the Pratt & Whitney PT6A-140A tops out at 950 hp. 

The weight savings of 6.3 pounds translates into greater takeoff performance—and reasonable maintainability in the field as operators of the Kodiak 100 have experienced since 2014. The nickel-cobalt edge can be stripped and replaced, said J.J. Frigge, CEO of Hartzell, “and so you’re getting a brand-new leading edge—and also you’re adding material back to the blades, so that you’re restoring the blade to factory dimensions.”

Made for the Backcountry

“The goal was to…go in and out of backcountry runways the same way we had done it previously, but now we are significantly reducing the noise impact,” said Chabbert. “So we are having a huge benefit when it comes to places not only in Europe but also around the world where noise matters.” Daher’s corporation as a whole has invested a great deal in composites manufacturing as well, particularly in thermoplastics that can be recycled, repaired, and even welded like more traditional materials.

Daher debuted its Kodiak 900 last year at Oshkosh to great response—including from agencies taking on special missions, though it has struggled a bit to translate the momentum into production as it faces similar supply chain issues plaguing the aerospace industry as a whole. Still, Chabbert noted that Daher expects to deliver eight of the 900s in 2023 and twice that in 2024. FLYING honored the 900 with its Editors’ Choice Award for Aircraft this year.

The 900 has created its own category, in a way. It was positioned as a larger, faster, more upscale version of the Kodiak 100 series, and though this has certainly been true, Daher’s flight ops pilots have witnessed even better results in remote, unimproved strips than they originally uncovered during the testing prior to Part 23 type certificate approval. 

This means the 900 can be used to support a wide variety of the humanitarian and relief missions for which the 100 was first developed—though both models continue to serve. 

“We care to support associations—especially nonprofit associations—that are really after something that is good for aviation,” said Chabbert. “One that is absolutely natural for us is the Recreational Aviation Foundation…We are super happy to be able to provide the use of the Kodiak 100 to cover all of the northwest activity for RAF…and to load and carry some of the heavy stuff into places that are literally impossible to get to by road.”

Daher recently supported two of the RAF’s rehabilitation projects, including one at the Moose Creek Ranger Station (1U1) in Idaho earlier this summer. The U.S. Forest Service strip was originally created 92 years ago using heavy equipment but now must be supported without mechanized equipment—save for aircraft. Daher donated the use of a Kodiak 900 to move materials, including tractor parts and shingles, that normally would have required mules or a helicopter to put into position. The RAF 100 is one display at AirVenture along with the 900 and TBM 960.

TBM Milestones

The TBM 960 launched out of the Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo in April 2022, and it has now logged its 80th delivery of the model to a private customer in the U.S. this month. It also marks a total of 488 aircraft in the TBM 900 series—the 900, 910, 930, 940, and 960—brought to the market overall since the TBM 900’s first flight a decade ago.

The 960 debuted with the first dual-channel FADEC turboprop engine, the PT6E-66XT, with its proprietary engine and propeller electronic control system (EPECS) automating engine start and other management, and a data transmission and control unit streaming more than 100 data points to internal memory. Now, with Garmin’s official release of PlaneSync this week, the TBM 960 can come out into the open as having the GDL60 datalink controller at the heart of PlaneSync. The data transfer facilitated by the GDL60 transfers engine and other data upon landing, allowing for deep analysis and trend monitoring.

Daher Growth

Daher continues its growth and expansion into the U.S. market as well as in France, with more strategic acquisitions in the past few months, including Assistance Aeronautique et Aerospatiale (AAA) in France to strengthen its industrial services proposition globally. 

“We want to grow the business. We want to grow the company,” said Didier Kayat, CEO of Daher. “The group altogether will be at 1.8 billion next year—1.7 billion this year—with half of the business as manufacturing and half of the business as services. We need to become more international—we did the grand opening of our new headquarters in the U.S. in February, and we need to innovate in order to decarbonize, because it’s becoming more and more important.”

In this vein, Daher presented its EcoPulse hybrid-electric technology demonstrator at the Paris Air Show in June.

Based in Maryland, Julie is an editor, aviation educator, and author. She holds an airline transport pilot certificate with Douglas DC-3 and CE510 (Citation Mustang) type ratings. She's a CFI/CFII since 1993, specializing in advanced aircraft and flight instructor development. Follow Julie on Twitter @julieinthesky.

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