Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Turning Airpark Dreams Into Lifestyle Realities

The Daher-Socata TBM 850 Elite

We cruised at altitudes between FL270 and FL290 on our round trip, and at FL270 with an OAT of -28C, saw 307 knots TAS with a fuel burn of 50 gph. Moreover, the TBM felt as solid and responsive near its 31,000-foot service ceiling as it did while maneuvering around SCX after departure.

For fuel management, the Range Ring function on the MFD displays range overlaid on a map based on fuel onboard, winds at altitude and power setting, and is continuously updated.

Change the power setting and you'll immediately see the effect that it has on your range. The automatic fuel swapper, when engaged, switches tanks every 11 minutes, further simplifying fuel management for the pilot.

You can also get down in a hurry. Sarsfield was eager to showcase how the GMC 710 autopilot—an entirely new digital system—handled emergency descents, incorporating an overspeed protection that ensures the airplane won't inadvertently exceed its certificated IAS limit of 266 knots.

Cleared by ATC for the emergency descent training ops, we returned to 700 mode, reduced rpm from 2,000 to 1,850, and at 178 knots put in a notch of flaps. Engaging the autopilot, we entered 264 knots as our speed, 4,000 fpm as our descent rate, and 8,000 feet as our desired altitude, resetting the pressurization system.

Our airspeed maxed before reaching our target descent rate, so the GMC 710 simply held the rate at about 3,450 fpm. Pull the power back and the TBM can descend at rates as high as 12,000 fpm without exceeding its maximum operating speed, Sarsfield said.

"That's the beauty of this airplane, the multimillion dollar difference—the real high airspeed available for descent," Sarsfield said, contrasting the TBM with competitor single-engine turboprops.

Muncie was reporting an 800-foot ceiling and we were cleared for the ILS 32 approach, our position soon displayed on the georeferenced chart. If needed, the TBM has an electric windshield, hot prop, pneumatic boots and the inertial separator to handle ice.

Speeds for deploying the landing gear and first notch of flaps are both a hefty 178 knots indicated, and full flaps can be lowered at 122 knots. Once the aircraft is configured and stabilized, the approach is flown at about 30% torque. Hold the nose off as power comes to idle in the flare and, as with taxiing, stay off the brakes and use the beta range to slow the landing roll.


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