EADS Socata is seeking external investment to help fund development of a new twin-engine business aircraft.

The French manufacturer of the TBM850, single-engined turboprop, which is on display here at ILA, said the programme could be launched next year if the right investor can be found.

Nicolas Chabbert, Socata's vice-president for sales and marketing speaking at the show yesterday, said French company Daher, which is holding discussions with parent EADS to buy a stake in Socata, has already pledged its commitment to help fund and develop a new aircraft for the Socata portfolio, providing Socata and Daher succeed in their joint bid for a significant aerostructures work package on the Airbus A350 XWB airliner programme.

"Both Socata and Daher would get something out of this partnership," said Chabbert. "Socata wants the investment to support its expansion plans and Daher wants to become a fully fledged aircraft manufacturer and first-tier supplier."

Socata is also open to offers from other investors keen to support the new aircraft programme. "If we manage to raise the bulk of the capital for the new aircraft from external investment, we might convince EADS to put the rest of the money in," added Chabbert.

Socata has been looking to expand its product line for several years, says Chabbert during which time has seen a number of designs on the drawing board. "Now is a good time to launch an aircraft, we have studied the market for some time and have a clear idea of what is needed. We also have a sound business plan in place," he said.

The new design will have two more seats than the six-seat TBM and will be larger than its single-engined stablemate, Chabbert said. "However, we have yet to choose between turboprop and jet.”

Meanwhile, the TBM 850 continues to sell well, says Chabbert. The company delivered a record 47 aircraft last year and has already sold the 60 aircraft earmarked for production this year.

“We expect a couple of orders to materialise here before the end of ILA,” explained Chabbert.  He also said he believed that by the end of June the company would hold over 200 total orders for the TBM.

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Source: Flight Daily News