The start of TBM 960 customer deliveries to the United States follows its recent certification by the FAA airworthiness authority, joining the previous certification approval by EASA.
The TBM 960 is the quintessential TBM, representing the fifth evolution since the TBM 900 series' introduction in 2014. It takes the maximum advantage of today's turboprop technology to provide digital control of the engine and the propeller, and retains the rapid speed of Daher's TBM family while enabling lower fuel consumption.
“I want to recognise the collaborative work of EASA and the FAA that resulted in the TBM 960's certification,” says senior vice president of Daher's aircraft division Nicolas Chabbert. “I also want to express my thanks to our US customers for their patience during the certification process. We've had an exceptional response overall to the TBM 960 since its launch, with more than 60 orders now logged worldwide for this latest version.”
The initial two US-bound TBM 960s departed 25 June from the Tarbes, France headquarters of Daher's aircraft division on their ferry flights, arriving at separate TBM authorised distributors in the Midwest and US West Coast for the handovers to their owners. One of the aircraft landed at Elliott Jets in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while the other was welcomed at California's Camarillo Airport by AVEX.
Chabbert adds that the initial TBM 960's long distance delivery flights from Europe to the US were an excellent opportunity to highlight the enhanced precision of the aircraft's digital systems, with benefits in terms of safety, efficiency, reliability and comfort.
Key new features of the TBM 960 are its advanced Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6E-66XT engine and Hartzell Propeller's five-blade Raptor composite propeller, both of which are linked to the dual-channel digital Engine and Propeller Electronic Control System (EPECS). With EPECS, the PT6E-66XT's startup is fully automated after a single-switch activation. The cockpit's power lever becomes an e-throttle, using a single forward position from take off to landing, with the EPECS optimising powerplant performance throughout the flight envelope while reducing pilot workload by integrating all functions and protecting the engine's life.
The Raptor propeller is fully integrated into the propulsion system. Turning at 1,925 rpm during maximum power output, the Raptor contributes to limiting noise and vibration. Its sound level during take off is just 76.4 decibels, meeting the most stringent international noise standards.
In retaining the performance of Daher's TBM 900-series aircraft, the TBM 960's digital control enables the pilot to fly with more precise settings. At Daher's recommended cruise setting of 308 kts, the fuel consumption is only 57 US gallons per hour, a 10 per cent fuel economy compared to the maximum cruise setting for more sustainability.
Daher's use of digital power for the TBM 960 extends into the aircraft's Prestige cabin, featuring an all-new environmental control system produced by Enviro Systems. Other enhancements include LED ambient strip lighting integrated into both sides of the overhead ceiling panel and electronically-dimmable windows, all controlled by a Passenger Comfort Display. Enhancements in the cabin's style and comfort also include new ergonomically enhanced seats, USB-A and USB-C power plugs, along with individual cupholders and headset hangers for each occupant.
The TBM 960 retains safety features that have contributed to the TBM 940's commercial success. Notably, the G3000 integrated flight deck enables the TBM's e-copilot functions: icing protection system; flight envelope monitoring through the Electronic Stability and Protection (ESP) and the Under-Speed Protection (USP) systems; the Emergency Descent Mode function; as well as the game-changing HomeSafe emergency autoland system.
To date, Daher has delivered more than 1,080 TBMs in the aircraft's 12 different versions, with approximately 80 per cent of them acquired by North American customers, most based in the US.