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Since its introduction in 1990, the Socata TBM - formerly known as the Daher TBM - has been lauded as the single-engine turboprop on the market.

The Socata TBM family exceeds performance expectations in more ways than its rivals. The TBM family is a byproduct of a collaboration fueled by demand in this segment for fast, reliable, and efficient aircraft.

The TBM has a range outside of the reach of many of its rivals, achieving this leap at speeds the Pilatus Pilatus PC-12 could only dream about. This milestone is achieved at a much more efficient rate leading to huge savings for the operators and passengers.

The Socata TBM provides the ultimate flier experience. Ideal for executive travel as well as regional airlines. TBM offers unmatched comfort and performance making flying enjoyable. The TBM has a sleek design with advanced aerodynamic features resulting in higher efficiency and speed.

Many aviation experts and enthusiasts would agree with me when I say the Socata TBM is the ultimate aircraft in the single engine-turboprop category. Based on my 5 years as an aviation professional, student, and enthusiast I have compiled 10 reasons why the Socata TBM is the best in its class.

Table of contents


10 reasons why the Socata TBM is the best in its class

1. The TBM is Fast

Comparing flying to other methods of transportation it is the preferred method by many. Flying in almost all cases is simply the faster and more reliable option. Even within the realm of flying speed matters. So, when it comes to air travel, especially in the small aircraft segment, speed is time and time is money

The TBM can achieve a maximum speed of 300 kts. Similar aircraft like the Pilatus PC-12 and the Piper M600 fall short in this category with a maximum speed of 280 kts and 260 kts, respectively. Even more competitive aircraft such as the Epic E100 still fall short of the TBM with a max speed of 325 kts.

Shaving 30 minutes off a flight may not seem significant to many but to the corporate world, it matters. Thirty minutes more per flight on a multi-leg business trip across neighboring states can make a single-day trip into an overnight trip.

Overnight stays cost money and more importantly, it costs valuable time. For a high-level executive, time is a luxury that cannot be wasted. Overnighting can potentially double the duration of a trip due to logistical limitations. This makes TBM ideal for executive travel with its combined range, comfort, and cost.

This faster speed of the TBM could potentially increase revenue by optimizing aircraft utilization on some routes by squeezing in an extra short-haul flight in its schedule due to the time saved flying faster.

2 Unbeatable Range

But the speed of an aircraft only addresses half of the performance requirements for aircraft in this segment. Not only must these aircraft be able to fly fast but they need to have a far reach as well flying to further destinations.

The Epic E1000 can take passengers up to 1385 nm (nautical miles) on a full tank while the Pilatus PC-12 can reach distances of up to 1635 nm on a full tank whilst the MAHINDRA Airvan 10 can only reach a mere 1738 nm. Even the Beech King Air C90GTx with its modern design is capped at 1152 nm.

But these aircraft are no match for the superior 1730 nm range of the Socata TBM.

This wider flying range allows the TBM to reach many destinations, nonstop, where its rivals would simply fall short. They would need to make a refueling stop. The average fuel stop can take anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour and a half depending on the airport, city, and time.

This additional stop can drastically increase the overall travel time the journey would normally take on the TBM.The Socata TBM can eliminate the need for this additional stop resulting in huge savings on time and money.

Popular business routes like the 1700 nm Chicago-Mexico City route are just outside the reach of the above-mentioned rivals while they are well within the capabilities of the TBM. The increased reach of the TBM connects destinations that would otherwise require inefficient stops or using a larger inefficient aircraft to make the journey.

Combining the range of the TBM with its speed and efficiency it's simply hard to find an aircraft more suitable for the job.

3. The TBM can fly higher than its rivals

The TBM design features a pressurized cabin. This allows the aircraft to fly at much higher altitudes. At higher altitudes, the atmosphere is much less turbulent and prone to the uncomfortable flying conditions associated with severe weather at lower altitudes. By flying at higher altitudes, the TBM can fly above the most turbulent weather conditions.

Flying at higher altitudes not only improves the safety of the aircraft but also improves comfort, contributing to an overall better flying experience. The TBM can reach altitudes of up to 31,000 ft (about 9.45 m) compared to the 30,000 ft (about 9.14 km) Pilatus PC-12NG is limited to.

Even other rivals such as the Piper M600 has a maximum service ceiling of 30,000 ft limiting its ability to fly at the higher and less turbulent altitudes as the TBM.

The MAHINDRA Airvan 10 is even less impressive with a maximum service altitude of just 20,000 ft. This rival is no match for the Socata TBM.

As altitude increases the density of the air decreases. This is good for aircraft because less air means less air resistance. The less air resistance the aircraft experiences the easier it is for the aircraft to zip through the atmosphere. This can allow the aircraft to fly at faster speeds while burning less fuel.

This improvement in flight performance at higher altitudes is one of the many contributing elements to the high efficiency of the TBM.

4. Speed in All Directions

Flying fast does not only mean forward speed. The ability of an aircraft to increase altitude rapidly can greatly improve performance specifications.

Not only is the TBM capable of soaring at higher altitudes and faster speeds than its rivals but it can reach these altitudes faster.

The TBM can climb at a rate of 2400 fpm (feet per minute) compared to the similar Pilatus PC-12NG at 1920 fpm, the MAHINDRA Airvan 10 at only 1010 fpm, and the Cessna Caravan with its comparatively sluggish 704 fpm.

The higher vertical speed allows the TBM to climb to more comfortable and safer altitudes faster than its rivals making the overall flying experience better.

Additionally, the higher climb rate allows the Socata TBM to operate in regions where the terrain would not permit the others to fly. Some airports are built on land masses with flat surrounding topography and others with mountainous terrain.

The TBM is even capable of diving towards the earth at speeds of up to 9500 fpm if the situation calls for it. Doing this is normal flying conditions for the robust airframe by the way.

The fast vertical speed allows the TBM to climb out of these mountainous areas faster than its rivals. This permits it to take off and land at a wider range of airports and weather conditions. With these capabilities, the TBM is more versatile than its competitors.

5. Lower Initial Cost

The upfront cost of an aircraft can affect its viability and profitability. Therefore, the initial cost of an aircraft can determine whether it is suitable for a customer or not.

The TBM costs roughly $3.2 million dollars. Similar aircraft such as the Pilatus PC-12 can range around the US 4.7 million dollars, the Beech King Air C90GTx at $3.8 million dollars, and the Epic E1000 at $US 3.85 million dollars.

The numbers speak for themselves. The TBM is a cheaper aircraft. The lower initial cost of the TBM results in lower overall operations costs, improving operator savings. These savings can then be passed on to the client or passengers leading to savings on both ends.

While there are aircraft such as the MAHINDRA Airvan 10, with an average initial cost of under US 2 million dollars, the performance of this aircraft is no match for the TBM. The TBM is faster, can fly further, and is among the cheapest to operate.

The Socata TBM offers this lower price to customers while maintaining higher levels of comfort and safety than many.

6. Fuel Consumption  

Reducing overall operational costs can determine whether an aircraft is commercially viable or deemed non-profitable. With fuel costs becoming an ever-increasing concern, to operators, efficiency matters. Reduced fuel cost can significantly reduce the per-flight cost and thus overall operational costs.

Speed and range are fantastic selling points for any aircraft and be seen as the main selling points, but these points can be pointless when paired with a fuel-hungry aircraft.

The Socata TBM has one of the lowest fuel consumption rates per hour compared to the other aircraft in its class mentioned before. The TBM uses approximately 65.7 gallons per hour compared to the already efficient Pilatus PC-12NG which uses 70.2 gallons per hour.

These savings are a result of better engine optimization as well as better aerodynamic features. Combining this with the lower weight of the TBM additional fuel savings can be obtained.

When these savings are factored in with the overall operations cost for this aircraft, it makes the TBM an economically attractive and advantageous contender in the single-engine aircraft market.

7. Maintenance Cost

After the initial purchase of an aircraft the cost of owning and operating the aircraft is far from over. In fact, the older the aircraft gets the more maintenance it requires and thus higher costs associated with this increased maintenance.

Flying is the safest form of transportation, and this is not by chance. Flying is safe because of the high safety standards. Frequent inspection cycles and strict operation standards mandate maintenance procedures to ensure the continued airworthiness of an aircraft.

The annual maintenance cost for the Socata TBM is on average 10 to 13 percent less than that of its rivals, the TBM achieves this while carrying the same number of passengers as some.

In my time spent in commercial airline maintenance, I developed an appreciation for the extent to which safety is prioritized in the aviation industry. The TBM is by no means immune to these costs, however, minimizing this cost is something the manufacturers of the TBM have managed to achieve.

Other aircraft in the same class such as the Epic E1000 has an average annual maintenance cost of $555,449.00 and the Pilatus PC-12NG has average annual maintenance of $573,645.13.

The average annual maintenance cost of the Socata TBM is $495,603.00. The use of more reliable parts and construction techniques makes this lower maintenance cost possible. The TBM has a lighter overall weight leading to less wearing of some components extending the service life of the components.

Maintenance costs can be an operator’s biggest expense and minimizing this figure as much as possible is of paramount importance. The TBM is a cheaper aircraft to own and operate and is ideal for clients who are seeking exceptional performance and low operating costs.

8. Lowest Operational Costs in its Class

The TBM has an overall lower cost of operation than many in its class. The overall operating cost comprises fuel, staff, and maintenance and all associated fixed costs of owning and operating the aircraft.

The hourly cost for operating the TBM is $871.00 compared to the Epic E1000 at $1,234.33 per hour and the Beech King Air C90GTx at $1261.00 per hour. The TBM has an average hourly cost of just over 70% that of the cost of the Epic and the Beech King Air.

The TBM achieves this lower cost in several ways. By faster flying than the competitors at a more efficient rate, the TBM saves a lot on fuel The lower initial cost and lower maintenance costs of the TBM further drives down the hourly operating cost.

If excellent performance and safety within budget are required, the TBM is the aircraft for the job.

9. Aircraft Size Matters

Compared to large commercial jets, smaller aircraft like the TBM spend more time on the ground as they are not as heavily utilized, in most cases. Storage of these aircraft while not in use is another crucial financial obligation. Larger aircraft require larger hangers and larger hangers can cost more money.

The TBM has a wingspan of 42 ft while the Pilatus PC-12 has a wingspan of 53 ft 4 in. The TBM, therefore, requires a hanger or storage facility that is only 80% as wide as one needed for the PC-12.

This means that the TBM can be stored in a smaller hanger. Additionally, in cases where the operator or owner constructs a hanger for the aircraft, the cost will be significantly less. These savings can further add to the financial savings offered by the TBM.

Lastly, the shorter wingspan makes towing and taxiing an easier and safer process as it is less likely that the wing may strike an object or ground equipment.

10. Better Design Features

The TBM was designed with style, comfort, and aerodynamics in mind. The manufacturer offers the aircraft in a wide range of cabin configurations. Each owner or operator can therefore optimize on a design that will accommodate the needs of their passengers.

Many pilots praised the level of responsiveness and agility when taxiing the TBM on the ground. Its ability to make tight turns allows the TBM to operate at some of the smallest and space restrictive airports compared to others in its class which present a more sluggish approach to handling.

The TBM offers Internal storage of 30 cu.ft and an additional 5.9 cu ft externally. In comparison, the Piper M600 offers limited internal storage of just 20 cu.ft. The TBM can accommodate a payload of 584 lbs. while the less impressive Piper M600 can accommodate just 458 lbs.

The aircraft features a large top hinged main cabin door. This allows for easy loading and unloading of passengers and cargo. This feature is uncommon in pressurized airframes of this size.

The TBM design features a sleek fuselage improving performance with a slimmer fuselage cross-sectional area. The Aircraft fuselage attracts much less profile drag in flight compared to less aerodynamic designs such as the MAHINDRA Airvan 10 which has external underwing supports making the aircraft less streamlined.

Reduced drag means reduced fuel consumption and thus improved fuel economy. In addition to the streamlined fuselage, the TBM has advanced aerodynamic winglets fitted to the end of each wing. Competitors like the Arivan and the Beech King Air C90 lack this advanced feature.

These winglets reduce wingtip vortices typically generated at the wingtips. Minimizing these wingtip vortices results in a reduction in lift-induced drag. The combination of less profile drag and less lift-induced drag gives the TBM a lower fuel consumption rate.