EADS Socata has delivered the first TBM 700B freighter to US medical testing company Quest Diag-nostics. The Teterboro, New Jersey-based firm has ordered six single-turboprop aircraft to move perishable patient specimens between its nationwide network of laboratories for time-sensitive testing.

The first four freighters are used aircraft, refurbished and modified with the factory-engineered freighter conversion by Maine-based Oxford Aviation. The remaining two will be new-build aircraft. Oxford has obtained a supplemental type certification for the modification, which includes tie-downs for three cargo nets, a new cabin liner and a new lighting system. Avionics are upgraded and standardised by Florida-based Banyan Air Services.

The TBM 700Bfreighter has a 3.5m3 (123ft3) cargo volume, a reinforced floor allowing a 188kg/m2 (38.5lb/ft2) loading and the optional left-side pilot access door, which allows the cabin to be loaded via the large standard rear door. The pressurised TBM 700 has a maximum payload capacity of 725kg (1,600lb), and a maximum cruise speed of 300kt (555km/h).

Quest Diagnostics says the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-powered TBM 700 was selected for "its sturdiness and its low cost of operation". The contract, signed in April, includes spares as well as flight and ground crew training. The firm has a network of 30 full-service and 150 rapid-response laboratories plus over 1,300 patient service centres.

EADS Socata is to fit Honeywell-supplied datalink weather systems as standard on TBM700s and as an option on Trinidad GT piston-singles delivered in the USA. Using Honeywell's flight information service (FIS) network, pilots will be able to receive weather information, as text or graphics, via a Bendix/King KDR 510 data radio for presentation on a KMD 550 or 850 multifunction display.

Source: Flight International