Two TBM pilot-owners, Dierk Reuter and Phil Bozek, have set a new world speed record between New York and Paris aboard a TBM 930. Flying the aircraft owned by Reuter, they crossed the Atlantic Ocean in eight hours and 38 minutes with an average speed of 364 kts, taking off from Westchester County airport north of New York City and landing at Paris Le Bourget, where Charles Lindbergh landed after his pioneering transoceanic crossing.
The TBM 930 beat the previous 325.2 knot record in the C1e category (turboprop aircraft with a MTOW under 13,200 lbs as established by FAI). The former record stood since 1985 and was set by renowned test pilot Chuck Yeager on a twin-engine aircraft.
Planning for the speed record attempt took the crew one year and included predicting the weather over the Atlantic, defining a route within commercial air traffic corridors and handling technical aspects.
“It was 366 days ago when we first discussed the potential of attempting an around-the-world speed record with the Daher team, who suggested that we could begin with a transatlantic speed record,” explains Reuter. “After a detailed examination, we found that the current record in the TBM aircraft category was achievable.”
The weather analysis was facilitated by the use of custom-built software created by Reuter, which estimated favourable winds. His TBM 930 was equipped with a custom-made fuel tank to carry 300 US gallons of jet fuel, bringing the aircraft's total usable fuel quantity to 600 gallons, thereby ensuring more than 10 hours of flight time.
The additional fuel increased the TBM 930's 7,398 lbs MTOW to 9,200 lbs, which required approval from the FAA. Authorisation was issued just a few days before the flight, which took off from Westchester County Airport at midnight on 8 March.
“My thanks go to those involved in obtaining the airworthiness approval, in particular Joe Robbins from the Rice Lake TBM service centre, who was instrumental in dealing with the FAA,” Reuter adds.
For traffic management, Reuter and Bozek were assisted by air traffic control agencies, primarily from Canada's NavCanada and the French civil aviation authority DGAC and its navigation services, to obtain the most direct routes. In addition, the TBM 930 was equipped for satellite communications and inflight tracking using an Iridium GO! device, and supported by Iridium Communications. This enabled the pilots to stay in permanent contact with transoceanic control centres.
The two pilots said their flight went well, although the departure was delayed two hours by severe frost in New York area, requiring a full ground deicing at Westchester.
“After encountering moderate winds during the first part of the trip, we experienced very favourable winds later, which propelled us at astonishing ground speeds up to 458 knots,” explains Bozek.
The pair landed at Le Bourget at 14:38 on 9 March, having consumed 520 US gallons, but with sufficient fuel remaining to reach an alternate airport if needed.
Upon their arrival, they were welcomed at the Luxaviation lounge by its handling agent partner, SkyValet. Greeting them were Daher executives, as well as Jacques Lemaigre du Breuil, a winner of the Lindbergh trophy who flew a similar New York-Paris trip 25 years ago in a TBM 700 at an average speed of 287 kts.
Reuter, 58, is a Chicago-based global finance expert and currently flies his TBM 930 after owning a TBM 850 version for nearly 10 years. He has amassed 4,500 flight hours, half of which have been logged while operating his two TBM aircraft throughout the world, including a trip to Antarctica last December.
31-year-old Bozek, a Michigan-based entrepreneur and real estate investor, is the youngest owner of a Daher TBM turboprop. He has amassed nearly 3,400 hours, including 800 in his TBM 900, and frequently flies aerobatics and formation demonstrations using his own collection of piston-engine and turbine-powered warbirds.
Daher senior VP Nicolas Chabbert salutes Reuter and Bozek for their achievement. “These two pilots have joined others in making aviation history, and we are pleased they demonstrated the real capabilities of our very fast turboprop aircraft in setting this new record.”