Two Daher TBM very fast turboprop aircraft make milestone flights over the South Pole
Tarbes, France, January 23, 2019 – Daher salutes the exceptional flights performed this month by owner-pilots on two TBM aircraft that traversed Antarctica and overflew the magnetic South Pole.
These achievements marked the first legs in earning the Polar Diamond Circumnavigator Diploma, recognized by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (the world’s governing body for aeronautical and astronautical records and sports), which has only been awarded once before.
One of the TBM owner-pilots – Sebastian Diaz from Santiago, Chile – reunited three generations of pilots in flying his TBM 850 with Diaz’ father, 88-year-old Patricio (one of the oldest still fully-licensed TBM pilots); and Sebastian’s son, Sebastian Jr., as copilots.
The other TBM owner-pilot, Dierk Reuter from Chicago, USA, was flying with son Alex on his TBM 930, carrying cameras and an inflight tracking system benefitting from an Iridium GO! satellite connectivity device and support of Iridium Communications. In-flight photos were posted to Instagram in quasi real-time using Iridium messaging and software created by the Reuters.
The 2,700 nautical mile trip for both aircraft from Santiago, Chile, to 75° South – the latitude required for the polar circumnavigator diploma – required three stopovers and much preparation, as Antarctica offers some of the most challenging environments for aviators. The temperature averages -56°F (-49°C) with constant winds.
Both TBMs had to fly over the huge continent – nearly 5 million square miles (12.9 million square kilometers) in size, largely uninhabited and mostly covered in ice. In addition, central Antarctica presents high ground that rises to more than 8,000 feet (2,500 meters), with peak mountains reaching 16,050 feet (4,892 meters) – where clear blue skies can quickly turn to overcast whiteout conditions.
On January 1, the two TBM aircraft left Punta Arenas in Chile: destination Teniente Rodolfo Marsh Martin Airport on King George Island (part of Chile’s Antárctica commune in Antarctica, and the continent’s northernmost airport). This airport serves the nearby village of Villa Las Estrellas and Base Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva – the most important Antarctic base of Chile – with a 4,232-foot (1,290-meter) gravel runway.
On January 2, both TBMs continued to the British Antarctic Survey Sky-Blu base, at 807 nautical miles southwest, and reached the 75° South latitude turning point before returning to King George Island’s airport. On the way, TBM 930 owner Jim Baum arranged a fly-by of the National Geographic Orion – an ice-class exploration ship, enabling exciting pictures and video to be recorded.
« We are impressed by the airmanship of such TBM owner-pilots as the Diaz family and Dierk Reuter, who carefully prepared this dual polar expedition,” commented Nicolas Chabbert, Senior Vice President of Daher Airplane Business Unit. “We salute the confidence they have in our TBM very fast turboprop aircraft, as they had to face extreme weather conditions flying over one of the world’s most hostile regions.”
Dierk Reuter explained: “The journey from my hometown Chicago to 75S 71W and back can be summarized in figures: 18,782 nautical miles, 64 hours, 3,080 gallons of jet fuel, and 19 stopovers. But it doesn’t tell the story about a pilot’s feeling to fly over the South Pole. The TBM is an awesome aircraft to explore the globe!”.
Added Sebastian Diaz: “We also had the challenge of avoiding the freezing of the fuel because of the extreme low temperatures, for which we used more Prist [fuel system icing inhibitor] than usual. We also like to thank the Chilean Air Force for their generous hospitality at SCRM (Base Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva).”
About the Daher TBM
The TBM 910 and TBM 930 are the latest members in Daher’s TBM family of very fast single-engine turboprop aircraft. Differences between the two models are concentrated on their primary avionics: Garmin’s G1000 NXi avionics system with physical keypad for the TBM 910; Garmin’s G3000 with touchscreen controller for the TBM 930.
Both aircraft offer superior performance – a maximum cruise speed of 330 kts. – and high efficiency with a 1,730-naut. mi. maximum range and a fuel consumption at economy cruise of 37 U.S. gallons per hour. This results from aerodynamic improvements, along with other aircraft enhancements. The maximum range and useful load, as well as the ability to land at small airports, are some of the customers’ favorite features.
To date, a total of 910 TBM aircraft have been delivered to international owners and operators, with the global fleet accumulating some 1.6 million flight hours. 265 TBM 900-series aircraft have already delivered through December 31, 2018. They are built by Daher on its industrial site at the airport of Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées (Hautes Pyrénées), France.
Daher is an aircraft manufacturer and service provider. Daher asserts its expertise in 3 main businesses – aircraft manufacturing, aerospace equipment and systems, logistics and services – and achieved a turnover of 1.1 billion euros in 2017. With the stability provided by its family ownership, Daher has been committed to innovation since its creation in 1863. Today, present in 11 countries, Daher is a leader in the industry 4.0, designing and developing value-added solutions for its industrial partners.