AERO11: Daher Socata runs a rule over SPn business jet

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Daher Socata expects to complete its evaluation of the SPn business aircraft by the end of the third quarter with a view to potentially taking on the programme.

The French aircraft and aerostructures company - which manufacturers the TBM850 turboprop single - signed an exclusive agreement last September with SPn owner Allied Aviation Technologies to carry out an evaluation of the light business jet with a view to acquiring the programme should it satisfy its requirements.

The evaluation is taking place at Socata's headquarters at Tarbes, south-west France. "We have completed about 20 flight hours," says Socata's senior vice-president Nicholas Chabbert at Aero Friedrichshafen. "We are looking at the SPn's technical and operational characteristics - including high altitude, stall, take-off, landing and cruise speed - to see that it meets the performance targets [set by its developer]."

The seven-seat, all-composite SPn was formerly developed by German airframer Grob Aerospace. It was the first in a family of business jets and a stretched version of the aircraft was planned once the SPn had been certificated. The programme was two years away from achieving full certification when its major investor pulled out of the venture in 2008. Grob was declared insolvent later that year.

Meanwhile, Socata - which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year - has delivered the first TBM700B to be retrofitted with the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit. The 700B - serial number 148 - was delivered to a private, unnamed operator.

The second retrofitted aircraft - a 700A - will be handed over to the French air force before the end of the month. Socata has a contract to upgrade the military's 26 in-service 700As.