ABOVE: The Garmin G1000 is standard equipment in the TBM 850. LOWER RIGH T: Special interior trim marks it as an anniversary
edition aircraft. UPPER RIGH T: The 1,825-shp PT6A-66D engine allows the TBM 850 to cruise at 320 knots at 26,000 feet.
The Morane-Saulnier aircraft company was formed in 1911 by the Morane brothers, Robert and Leon, and Raymond Saulnier. The Morane brothers had already been building
monoplanes and, once teamed with Saulnier, quickly improved
their designs to achieve record-setting performance.
Morane-Saulnier also had the terrific foresight to partner
with Roland Garros, who would become one of the most famous
pilots in France and probably in all of Europe before World War I.
In 1913, Garros was first to fly an MS airplane across the
Mediterranean Sea, covering an amazing 454 miles over open
water and establishing another first for the company. But what
really propelled MS and Garros to fame was mounting a machine
gun to fire through a propeller fortified with steel plates. Flying an
MS airplane, Garros became the first fighter pilot in WWI to score
an aerial victory by firing forward through a propeller arc, and he
soon became the first French ace of the war. Both Garros and
Anthony Fokker claim to have developed the synchronized interrupter gear, allowing a machine gun to fire through the propeller arc
without hitting the propeller.
MS designed and built dozens of different airplanes over the
years, including the first very light jet, the MS.760 Paris jet, in the
late 1950s. The airplane was ahead of small jet engine technology
and short on range and cruise speed in most respects, but it served
as a liaison airplane in several air forces around the world.
Another innovative general aviation design from MS was
the Rallye, a low-wing piston single famous for its short-field
performance that was manufactured in the 1960s. Stall behavior of the Rallyes was so good, and the stall speed so low, it
earned the admiring nickname of “Tin Parachute.” No matter
how ham-handed a pilot is at slow flight, the Rallye simply
descends at a reasonable rate under control with no inclination
to roll off or spin.
MS was caught up in the consolidation of aerospace
companies that swept through Europe in the 1960s and ’70s and
continued building airplanes under several different ownership
names. Socata was the name on the building when the company
developed the TBM turboprop single. In 2009, the Daher family
purchased controlling interest, changing the name to Daher-Socata, though Socata is the name most in aviation use.
The “TB” in the name of the turboprop is a continuation of
the model designation given to Socata’s most recent line of piston
singles, the Tampico, Tobago, and Trinidad. The “M” in TBM
stood for Mooney. When development of the single-engine
turboprop began in the 1980s, Socata teamed with Mooney and
planned co-production and some shared work on design. Before
Mooney could contribute much at all to the effort, the company
fell on hard times financially, and it was Socata that designed
and built the TBM 700 that was first delivered in 1991.