JUN 26th 2014

Planes that rock FoS: TBM Very Fast Turboprop

The fastest aircraft at FoS? That would be the TBM that goes by the suggestive name of Very Fast Turboprop.

It certainly didn’t hang around getting here. Pilot Mark Diaz (on left in picture below) reports that he left Tarbes-Lourdes airport at the base of the Pyrenees and touched down at Goodwood just one hour and 52 minutes later – French air traffic controllers’ strike notwithstanding.

Mark cruised the six-seater from the French manufacturer Daher-Socata to Sussex at 28,000ft at 311 knots – that’s about 350mph.

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The turn of speed is all down to a McLaren P1-type power output: 850 shaft horsepower form its Pratt & Whitney turbine. No surprise then that it’s the world’s fastest certified civil aviation single engine turboprop.

In fact that’s a record the TBM has held since it first came out in 1990. But it won’t hold it for much longer. The TBM850 on show in the aviation exhibition at FoS is about to be replaced by the TBM900 which can fly faster and further, among other improvements. The first one is due to arrive in the UK next week.

Mark reckons the TBM is very much a pilot’s aircraft. ‘Ninety five percent of owners fly them themselves,’ he told us. ‘It’s very robust and sporty and in just an hour you can be 320 miles away. Most owners have it to escape to the sun.’

TBM UK sales manager Adrian Munday said: ‘The new TBM900 is going to be based at Fair Oaks in Surrey but if anyone at Goodwood is interested in a demo then we would be delighted to bring it over.’

One small hitch may be the cost: US$3.7million, though that does include warranty, five-year maintenance package and pilot training. And being a turboprop, it’s much lower on running costs than a light jet.

Very fast aircraft and very fast cars make a perfect pairing of course, so if the TBM900 were a car, what would it be? Said Adrian: ‘With so much luxury and high performance it would have to an Aston Martin.’

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