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Business Air News Bulletin
Business Air News Bulletin
The monthly news publication for aviation professionals.
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Aviostart Airlines

Daher Aerospace

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Albena chooses TBM 850 as new turboprops compete with VLJs
Prima Finance EAD, part of the Bulgarian group Albena Invest Holding plc, is acquiring a TBM 850 and Socata believes that the order will kick start demand for new generation turboprops in the country.

Prima Finance EAD, part of the Bulgarian group Albena Invest Holding plc, is acquiring a TBM 850 and Socata believes that the order will kick start demand for new generation turboprops in the country. Listed on the Sofia stock market, Albena is one of the five largest holding companies in Bulgaria with a capital of ?60 million. The group manages 15 companies operating in sectors ranging from tourism to transport and from furniture manufacturing to building contracting.

The company says that the TBM 850 will add to its business efficiency. "It is the fastest civilian single engine turboprop with a maximum cruising speed of 593 km/h at flight level 260 in ISA."

Albena confirms it has chosen an 850 hp version of the six- seat aircraft. "The TBM 850 combines the cruising speed and travel times of a light jet with economical operating costs and a lower environmental signature. Its ability to operate from small airfields, 1,500 nm maximum range and increased payload were factors in our decision."

The group is the legal successor of Albena Invest Privatisation Fund created in 1996 to privatise state-owned companies. At its launch, 130,000 Bulgarians purchased stock.

Veselin Nedev, marketing and sales manager for the Sofia-based Aviostart Airlines, confirms that the cost-effectiveness of turboprops makes them popular in Bulgaria. Aviostart, which operates a P180 Avanti and was established ten years ago, is considering acquiring an additional turboprop and perhaps a jet.

Socata reports that it delivered 60 TBM 850s in 2008 bringing total sales to 148 units operated by customers since the model was introduced less than two years ago. "It is a significant addition to the 323 TBM 700s delivered since the beginning of the program in 1990," says Nicolas Chabbert, EADS Socata vp sales and marketing. European deliveries recently increased to 20 per cent share of the global total.

Jean-Michel Leonard, Socata president, says: "A decline of the turboprop was predicted due to the advent of VLJs but more and more of the small and medium business jet owners are now considering the TBM 850 as the right alternative to a light jet or a VLJ which are more expensive aircraft to operate."

He predicts: "The current economic conditions will create some more opportunities for the TBM 850 which has an excellent quality-price ratio and very low operating costs." Chabbert says Albena's decision could open new doors for turboprops in the emerging eastern European business aviation markets.

Meanwhile Aviostart's Nedev adds: "We have a number of plans for 2009 and 2010 but they are not yet finalised. However, despite the popularity of turboprops we are considering adding a jet because the demand is there."

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