|Socata built a 1913 Morane-Saulnier Type L replica to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of continuous aircraft production.
PHOTO BY MARIANO ROSALES
At 1430 hours local time—or 1930Z if you prefer—a one-year countdown clock reached zero, marking the 100th anniversary of continuous airplane production by Daher-Socata. The countdown clock started last year here at AirVenture, and the best news is that the clock didn’t stop at zero but instantly began counting up to what the people at Socata expect to be another century of airplane building.
Socata currently makes the very fast TBM 850 single-engine turboprop, which can cruise at 310 knots and fly nonstop nearly 1,500 nautical miles.
The Pratt & Whitney PT6-powered TBM 850 will race a North American P-51 Mustang here at AirVenture, on both Wednesday and Friday.
Air racing veteran Jimmy Leeward will be at the controls of the Mustang, while Bob Odegaard, who usually races the Super Corsair, will fly the TBM 850.
Both Jimmy and Bob say the two airplanes are very competitive in speed, and they promise a real race.
And they swear they do not know who will win.
The Mustang versus TBM 850 air race is scheduled for 3:30 both Wednesday and Friday afternoons here at AirVenture.
A century of tradition
Daher-Socata traces its roots to the Morane-Saulnier company founded in France in 1911. The first type of airplane, a monoplane, produced by the company won the Paris to Madrid air race establishing an early reputation for performance.
Morane-Saulnier teamed up with pioneer pilot Roland Garros, who later became the first to fly across the Mediterranean Sea in a Morane-Saulnier airplane. Garros became even more famous when he flew the first airplane in combat in World War I and invented the interrupter mechanism to allow the machine gun to fire through the propeller arc.
Flying Morane-Saulnier airplanes Garros became the first ace of the war.
From Morane-Saulnier to Daher-Socata
In 1969 the company name changed to Socata and has remained the same since.
Two years ago the Daher family purchased controlling interest in Socata, which continues to make major structural components for Airbus and Dassault Falcon Jet as well as building the TBM 850.
Socata also manufactured the TB 20 series of piston singles and is famous in general aviation circles for its line of short field Rallye piston singles.
The company was also the first to build what we would now call a very light jet when it created the MS 760 Paris Jet in the 1960s. The four-seat twin-engine jet was used by various air forces as a liaison airplane, and several were sold to individuals for personal and business travel.
Over the last century Socata has built more than 17,000 airplanes. The TBM fleet has grown to 559 with 234 of those being the more-powerful and faster TBM 850.
Socata is in the fortunate position of having a backlog of at least a year of TBM 850 orders.
Building for the future…
Socata is also working on an airplane that it calls NTx for “new twin with x number of seats.” The airplane will almost certainly be a jet, though no firm design decisions have been made.
Socata purchased the SPn jet prototype and design after efforts by the original developer Grob failed to develop and certify the airplane.
Socata has not made any decisions on whether to proceed with development of the composite airframe SPn or to follow another path to the NTx.
Socata has been a generous EAA sponsor and supporter, particularly of the Young Eagles program.
For the past five years Socata has offered an internship to two Young Eagles at its factory in Tarbes, France.
Jessica Miller of Hutchinson, Minnesota, and Shelby “Blaine” McCaleb of Savannah, Georgia, have just returned from their internships and are here at AirVenture.
Both describe their time in France as the opportunity of a lifetime.