The French are coming! And they are bringing with them a fleet of TBM 900 turboprops to revitalize Part 135 charter operations.

Having seen the market for single-turboprops shrink in all areas except the U.S., Daher (you are not supposed to call the airplane a Socata any more) has pitched up at Vegas with an initiative to boost further its appeal to the North American charter market.

The TBM Charter Pack provides Part 135 companies with the full range of supporting services they need to make a success of TBM 900 operations: training, technical back-up and spares, service centers and the like.

Blazing the trail has been Eric Walden, president of Little Hawk Logistics, who has been operating a TBM at Charlottesville, Virginia, since February. Walden is sold on TBM economics and told the media, “I don’t want to fly 50 hours a month; I’ve been flying 33 hours – and making money.” That’s a considerably lower break-even point than other single-props one could name. And for the typical distances flown, light jets have no chance to outshine on speed or cost.

However, TBMs are only part of the diverse, 9,000-person Daher empire. There’s a thriving aerostructures business back in Europe, says Didier Kayat, deputy CEO, but 80% of group work remains in that continent. “We wish that to be 50:50 with America,” he declares. And there’s already a company toehold, with 220 employees and $200 million of business in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada.

The need for that presence is stressed by TBM 900 sales figures showing that 82 of the 131 sold are destined for North America. Or, put another way, 572 of the 758 TBMs of all varieties delivered up to now.

This year so far, 44 TBM 900s have been delivered and the company is hoping to make that at least 52 by Dec. 31, in order to break last year’s sales record.