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Are Socota TBM700 Model Aircraft Safe To Fly?

by John M. White |

Socota TBM700 On July 29, 2015 at 6:15pm a Socota TBM700 flown by Joseph F. Trustey, a 53 year old experienced pilot, crashed during an attempted go-around at the Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport in Milwaukee, WI. On board with the pilot was his 18 year old daughter who was travelling to visit Marquette University in Milwaukee. Both died in the accident.

TBM700 Accident History

Between 1990 and 2010 there were 36 accidents involving the TBM700, including 6 in which the pilot lost control of the aircraft making a left hand turn during landing. In each case the pilot had been flying the aircraft by hand with the autopilot disengaged. In many of these cases the pilot was returning after a long business day, causing speculation that fatigue might have been a contributing factor. Last year French aviation officials released a report on "Loss of control on fast single-engine turboprop aircraft - Case of Socota TBM700" documenting a number of crashes involving Socota TBM700 model airplanes. If you fly a TBM700 it would be a good idea to review the information contained in this report.

Pilot Joseph F. Trustey

TBM700 Crash Trustey Mr. Trustey was an ATP rated pilot who was first licensed in 2006, according to the FAA. He was involved in the private equity world and well known by Mitt Romney and many others. American investigators have not said what caused last Wednesday’s crash of a TBM 700, which killed Joseph F. Trustey, a top executive at the Boston private equity firm Summit Partners, and his daughter, Anna, who was preparing to visit Marquette University in Milwaukee. Trustey’s airplane had been descending toward Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport, when he called air traffic control and was given clearance to land, according to an audio recording of the communication obtained by the Globe. When the plane was less than half a mile from the airport, Trustey called back asking the direction of the wind, according to the recording. Trustey then told the control tower he was taking a “go-around,” indicating he did not feel comfortable landing and would circle once more before touching down. He did not say why.

TBM700 Conclusions by French Authorities

As indicated earlier in this article the French airplane safety investigating arm BEA prepared a report following a number of accidents involving the Socota TBM-700 model aircraft. The BEA, the French agency responsible for airplane safety investigations, did not conclude that the Socata TBM 700, a powerful single-engine turboprop that has been manufactured in France since the late 1980s, was unsafe. However, French officials did recommend that pilots receive additional training specifically for flying at low speeds while landing, as well as making pilots aware of the dangers of flying after a long day at work.

Conclusion

Flying airplanes is always a challenge, even to the most experienced pilots. I have a recent acquaintance who flies a TBM700 about 75 hours per year. He takes recurrent training and is a very cautious pilot. His comment to me was that while the hours seem low, considering the speed of the aircraft and distance traveled he feels that he is able to stay current enough to be safe. Unfortunately I find this a bit difficult to accept. 6.25/hours of flying time per month seems a bit low to me unless there are a lot of very short flights on a regular basis. Either way it would seem to me that a very rigorous recurrent training program and currency checks would be a great idea. Anyone who can afford this kind of aircraft can certainly invest in additional training. What do you think? Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!

About John White

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