Flying on efficient wings, the new flagships of Daher’s turboprop line—the TBM 960 and the Kodiak 900—arrived on Sunday at the Orlando Executive Airport (KORL) for the 2022 National Business Aviation Association’s Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (NBAA-BACE).
Daher’s leadership highlighted the company’s sustainability efforts in a press conference on Monday, along with updates to both aircraft programs and its recent acquisition and expansion in Florida.
Didier Kayat, CEO of Daher, spoke of the company’s growth plan to establish a commensurate footprint in North America to the one it has in France. “Daher America is growing—as you know, we have acquired a huge facility not far from here in Stuart. We [have] now more than 1,200 employees in America, present in nine different locations. We told you five years ago we wanted to become as American as we are European, and we have done the first steps of that.”
With the acquisition from Triumph Aerostructures of the facility in Stuart, Daher also hopes to develop its relationships with other OEMs, including Boeing. “We are here to grow our relationship with Boeing, because [the Stuart operation] is one of the major suppliers of subassemblies for the 767,” Kayat said. And thanks to that acquisition, Boeing is now as important to Daher’s turnover as Airbus is to the company in France.
Milestone in the TBM Series
The TBM series now has marked 1,114 deliveries, with a special celebration for the 1,100th delivery to a U.S. customer. Kayat remarked on the success of the program, harkening back to when the Daher family acquired the SOCATA (Société de Construction d’Avions de Tourisme et d’Affaires) assets from EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space).
“When we acquired SOCATA in 2008,” said Kayat, “they told us the TBM ‘is an old plane, it’s ending its life, so you have to reinvent the TBM and find a new project, to remain an aircraft manufacturer.’ We thought, on the contrary, that the TBM had a good reputation, and what we’ve done for 15 years now shows it.”
Kayat also outlined the updates the company is making to encourage and support sustainable aviation, both in its own operations and among its customer base. One example: the Me & My TBM app used by owners and pilots to compete against each other now features “eco” challenges within its scoring matrix.
“Sustainability in aviation is crucial,” Kayat said. “We think it’s important to start integrating that into our communication.”
The effort is so important to Daher that it now will deliver and operate all aircraft from its primary TBM development and production facility in Tarbes, France, with sustainable aviation fuel. “The path is quite clear for us…from October 17, all of the planes leaving Tarbes will have sustainable aviation fuel.”
Kodiak 900 Program Updates
Senior vice president of Daher’s Aircraft Division Nicolas Chabbert provided an update on progress with the company’s latest revisioned model, the Kodiak 900, which it debuted at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh last summer. The FAA-certificated turboprop addresses the desire to go faster—and with it, Daher has found a new market slice to tap into.
“We expect that the audience at NBAA will see that this airplane can be another part of their fleet, and [allow them to] operate the fastest single-engine, non-pressurized aircraft,” Chabbert said. The new model doesn’t overlap the mission of the Kodiak 100, in fact—the company has not lost a single order on the 100 to the 900 following the announcement at AirVenture. Instead, they took orders for seven 900s at that show.
It also features the largest cabin that Daher currently produces, said Chabbert, with double club seating that makes the aircraft very versatile. It’s powered by the Pratt & Whitney PT6A-140A engine, which is the largest one in the class from the engine manufacturer. According to Chabbert, it was important to the company that in the development of the updated Kodiak, it would use the same amount of fuel to achieve the desired speed targets—and they beat that goal.
“If you look at the fuel calculation, it’s a nice reduction—a fuel savings of about 9 percent,” Chabbert said.
Integration of the Kodiak line into the company’s ecosystem continues with the expansion of TBM Care into Daher Care, to cover the utility turboprops from a customer support standpoint.
Special missions will also play a critical role in the expansion of the Kodiak’s play in the market, with Daher receiving multiple proposals from various law enforcement, firefighting, and other government and non-government organizations around the U.S.
Most Kodiak 900 orders thus far are within the U.S. and North America, though the company is working with several European prospects. Chabbert noted the company still awaits EASA validation on the Kodiak 900: “The EASA certification is almost done. We’ve completed all of the test flights and served every request. It was an interesting second validation process—the reverse of [what] we experienced with the TBM 960—and in fact we are making very minor changes to meet with the requirements from EASA, which were endorsed by the FAA.” They expect final paperwork “within weeks.”
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