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Long range ops: To the limit – long distances in a smaller aircraft
Daher-Socata welcomed French TBM 700 pilots Louis-Alain and Annie Dumont to the company's exhibit at the AirVenture Oshkosh gathering, celebrating their use of a TBM turboprop aircraft in a globe-spanning voyage.

Daher-Socata welcomed French TBM 700 pilots Louis-Alain and Annie Dumont to the company's exhibit at the AirVenture Oshkosh gathering, celebrating their use of a TBM turboprop aircraft in a globe-spanning voyage.

The Dumonts participated in a trip organised by the Air Journey company, and the TBM 700 joined three VLJs on a 25,000nm flying adventure that visited 27 countries during 53 stop-overs.

"This flight of a lifetime allowed us to visit many countries for the first time, and we could really enjoy such a long duration trip with the TBM," says Louis-Alain Dumont.

He says the TBM 700 gave him the range to fly direct legs, while the light jets needed stopovers. "My best performances were a flight from Marrakech to Malta of 1,150nm, which I flew non-stop in 4h25m – while light jet pilots had to make a 70 minute refuelling stop – and a flight from Cebu in the Philippines to Hong Kong in 3h45m."

Nicolas Chabbert, svp of Daher-Socata's aircraft division, says more and more TBM operators are using their aircraft for long-distance flights: "This is confirmed by our fleet statistics, with such examples as Wei Chen, who last year was the first Chinese pilot to fly around the world in one of our aircraft."

Short of fuel

Taking long range duties for Eurofly Service SpA in their stride are two Falcon 7X and a Falcon 900.

Captain Jacopo Sagone now pilots a Learjet 60XR, and flew a Challenger 601 for seven years, but for Sagone, the most challenging experience is to fly long range with a short range aircraft.

"I am based in Italy and the most distant place I flew as pilot is Porto Alegre in Brazil," he says. "I was a co-pilot on a Hawker 700. It's a long story but, believe me, to fly over the ocean, around huge thunderstorms, with strong headwinds, with an old and heavy aircraft and short of fuel, is a real adventure!"

Eurofly Service's ops office takes care of normal flight planning and for long range requirements enlists the services of Universal.

Careful planning

Jan Kralik, director of ground ops at ABS Jets, believes flying long haul on a Gulfstream does not offer many interesting stories. "You simply shoot the aircraft almost into space (FL 430 or even higher) and wait until it descends in another part of the world. What is much more challenging is flying a regional jet commercially around the world.

"We currently operate five Embraer Legacys under our commercial AOC and all of them fly long haul flights quite often. In such cases we have to carefully plan the fuel stops, crew duties, all the landing permissions, etc."

The demand for long haul flights is slightly growing year by year, says Kralik, adding that this is probably because people are looking for business outside Europe. "And if they want to be free of all duties and have a rest, they are looking for places around the world with no cell phone signal."

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