AltiJet, based in Strasbourg, France, has received a TBM 900 that it hopes to eventually use for charter flights. The aircraft will initially perform owner flights while the application for an AOC is filed. If successful, AltiJet will become one of only a few operators in Europe certified to perform single engine turboprop missions commercially.
Since 2013, French regulations have enabled TBMs to be used within the country for public transportation of passengers while operating in instrument flight conditions. The first to operate a TBM for charter under these regulations was Voldirect, based at Rennes in Brittany, using a TBM 850. Based on France's experience, EASA anticipates that such activity could be permitted in Europe in the next 12 months.
Says AltiJet pilot and safety manager Julien Bottenmuller: “The work carried out by Voldirect is very useful for us, and our civil aviation authority DGAC is aware that it is possible to provide public transportation with a single turbine. For the moment we still have some difficulties, because we need to prove that at each point of the route we are able to land if there is engine failure.
“We also have other issues due to IR-OPS regulations, because the TBM is mainly sold to people operating it privately and so there are some technical issues with operating it on an AOC.
“This is the first aircraft for AltiJet. We chose it because it is able to land and take off at almost every airfield. With us, they will be able to leave directly from a little airfield near the company, take off in the morning, spend the entire day in meetings, and the plane is waiting for them. They are home the same day, and so they gain time as well as money.”
AltiJet has also purchased a PC-12 which is set for delivery in February 2016. “The TBM is very good for three to four people for a two-hour flight,” Bottenmuller continues. “The PC-12 is much larger; it is for eight people and is a little bit slower. The two of them are really for different uses. It wasn't a case of preferring one over the other; ultimately we wanted both, so that is what we did.”
He considers the TBM 900 to be 'an 850 with little things that make it better'. It can fly at FL280 at 330 kts with four people, and The TBM 900 has a range of 1,730 nm and fuel consumption of 37 US gallons per hour.