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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedDaher-Socata counts down to 100th birthday
By J. Mac McClellan
 

The Daher-Socota countdown clock in their booth at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010. Photo by Mariano Rosales

Daher-Socata, maker of the very fast TBM 850 turboprop single, started a 365-day clock at its exhibit on Tuesday to count down its 100th anniversary celebration that will be held at Oshkosh next year.

The French aerospace company is the oldest airplane maker in the world, dating back to Morane-Saulnier, which built its first airplane in 1911.

Morane-Saulnier was one of the early builders of monoplanes and figured out what would be the dominant configuration by putting the engine in the nose and tail at the aft end. At the time others were experimenting with all sorts of configurations that would eventually prove to be less versatile and efficient.

Through the 99 years that followed the founding of Morane-Saulnier the company remained in continuous production but under several different names as ownership changed. In the modern era the company was part of Aerospatiale and later became Socata.

Daher acquired the company in 2009.

Under its several names the company had many aviation firsts, including building the first very light business jet, the Paris Jet, in the 1960s. It also created the TB series of piston singles that include the Tampico and Trinidad.

One of its most successful designs in the past many years is the TBM turboprop single. Daher-Socata has already delivered 200 of its TBM 850 model since it was introduced in 2006. Overall, 524 TBMs have been built.

Demand for the TBM 850 remains steady and the company is working with a reasonable backlog given the difficulties of the economy. Less than 10 percent of the TBM fleet is for sale which is substantially lower than most airplanes in the turbine fleet.

Daher promises to make continuous improvements in the design while it studies a new model for the future.

The new airplane will have twin engines, but engine selection and final design parameters have not been set. And Daher is really comfortable working to aviation standards as its other businesses are supplying structures and components for the defense, aerospace, and nuclear power industries.

Not much margin for error in any of those efforts.

Daher-Socata expects most improvements in the 850 over the next few years to be in the cockpit with new avionics capabilities. It added Garmin synthetic vision technology last year and will now make data logging capabilities available.

The Garmin system will log all parameters of engine performance including any limits that are exceeded. The continuous and detailed monitoring holds promise for more effective maintenance procedures, and possibly longer engine life.

Daher-Socata is expanding its work to include updating existing airplanes, particularly the TBM 700. Approval to install the G1000 system in the 700 is expected later this year.

It was only seven years ago that we were celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight and next year here at Oshkosh everyone is invited to the party for the oldest airplane maker.

That’s impressive.

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