French defense ministry orders four new TBM 940 test aircraft

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The French Ministry of Defense is expanding it test aircraft fleet with four Daher TBM 940 aircraft.

The airplanes will be used by the Flight Test division of the DGA (Direction générale de l’armement) and will be based at four flight test centers throughout the country. The aircraft’s duties include flight testing and safety support, as chase airplanes and in liaison flights.

The single-engine turboprop TBM 940s will be introduced from this summer, replacing TBM 700 versions that have been used since 1992. The €21.8 million contract includes additional services relating to aircraft test instrumentation, training sessions and maintenance in operational condition. It will save around 30 direct jobs in the aeronautics industry.

The four TBM 940s will be modified by Daher to incorporate equipment for flight testing and training, with the capability to carry a wide range of payloads under each wing up to 75kg (165 lbs).

Daher CEO Didier Kayat said, “We thank the Ministry of Defense for its confidence with this contract, which will modernize the DGA’s flight test fleet – thereby supporting its development programs for defense systems of the future.

“This is a strong endorsement for our industry and for our teams, helping to mitigate some of the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected our sector.”

The TBM 940 is a six-seat aircraft with a pressurized cabin, automatic anti-icing protection, an autothrottle system and an automatic emergency landing system (autoland).

It has a maximum cruising speed of  611km/h (380mph) and a maximum range of 3,204km (2,000 miles). According to TBM the 940 version delivers improved performance and a 10% gain in efficiency when compared to the TBM 700s currently used by the French armed forces.

The cabin will be able to accommodate test facilities as well as an operator console for receiving and federating the data collected by the various systems installed. An enhanced electrical generator will allow integration of all mission equipment without power limitations.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before eventually becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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