Mark Hannant

Socata is to check the viability of the single turboprop TBM 700 as a freight carrier through a partnership agreement with French airline Air Open Sky, it announced at the show.

The TBM 700 has previously only been used as a pressurized, six or seven-seat business aircraft or as a multi-role aircraft performing special missions.

Socata feels that the power and reliability of the turboprop combined with the low cost and maneuverability of the single-engine configuration of the TBM 700 means it can make an impact in the freight market.

The wide door and quick-change configuration will, in theory, make the aircraft ideal for the ad hoc emergency deliveries that are Air Open Sky's forte.

In the first partnership agreement of its kind in France - and the first time Socata has teamed up direct with an airline - the first TBM 700 Freight version will join the Air Open Sky fleet in November.

Air Open Sky says it is optimistic that the concept will be proved a winner. Chairman and CEO Stephane Brun says: "The TBM 700 offers unrivalled capabilities to meet our customers' freight requirements. Our partnership with Socata opens up exciting prospects, based in large part on this aircraft's excellent cost-effectiveness."

Source: Flight Daily News