AEROSPATIALE subsidiary Socata has signed with American General Aircraft for the rights to manufacture its Cougar twin-engined piston aircraft.

Socata president Jean-Marc de Raffin Dourny says, that the aircraft renamed the TB320 Tangara, will be aimed particularly at the trainer market, complementing the existing range of trainers offered by the company. "We want to cover all needs," he says. Pilots will start with the TB9 and TB10 for ab initio work, then move on to the TB20 for instrument flight-rules training, and up to the TB320 for multi-engine work. "Finally, they can fly the TBM700 for commercial training," he says.

Socata also launched a cargo version of the TB20 (Trindad) at Le Bourget, equipped with a 0.99 x 0.85m door in the left side. "There is a demand for low-cost utility aircraft," says de Raffin, adding that the aircraft will be a "little more expensive" than the basic TB20, which sells for around Fr1.5 million ($300,000) fully equipped. "But it is ideal for third-world applications." he says.

A new cargo version of the TBM700 turboprop single has also been revealed, with a cargo door measuring 1.19 x 1.08m. The company has dropped a stretched, cargo version of the TBM700 because, says de Raffin, "studies showed that our existing size was right".

The standard aircraft, complete with the cargo door, "...will be ready within a year to 18 months if the demand is there. We're very confident that it will be".

Source: Flight International