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Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Groundpounder, Feb 6, 2019.
What can you tell me about the TB-20, good bad and otherwise?
I sat in one once. Very comfy.
How tall are you? I heard they aren't friendly for taller pilots. I'm 6'3".
I can't work on them, they are metric --> no metric tools.
I've sat in one, at 5'11" it's a good fit for my height, and would possibly be good for a 300 lb. pilot, as the cockpit is a foot or so wider than my Skyhawk.
Heard they are nice and wide, which is awesome, I'm just worried my big empty head is going to bang against the ceiling.
An old client went through the motions on one and found it to be a decent aircraft. He elected to pass based on: support costs appeared higher than his A36, parts available only through dealer net work with some needed from France, and limited experienced people available near his location. From a maintenance stand point everything seem straight forward. The books were okay but I had used French manuals for years on helicopters. Parts/support seemed the biggest issue for him as annual costs averaged more than his 36. He spent some time discussing on the socata.org website. I'm not sure on this model, but some Socatas have several life-limited parts which is a rarity in this class aircraft.
I always thought it was a sharp looking bird with a really cool cockpit.. I think @SixPapaCharlie said they were thinking of buying once before they got the Cirrus.. one of his posts from a while ago had a pretty good explanation of what they thought of it and why they did not end up buying it
also, I believe it's another one of the airplanes with a solid piece wing spar and no occurrences of an in flight break up.. I want to see the Israeli Air Force used to have a bunch
They had about 20 as liasion aircraft. This was some kind of lend/lease deal involving the US government. When that lease expired, a group of investors bought up the entire lot and sold them off piecemeal through a dealer in california. You could order custom paint and interior. If you see a 1996 TB20 with air-conditioning and about 2500hrs, chances are its an ex IAF plane.
A squadron mate of mine got a TB-30 Epsilon (French trainer decomissioned surplus) last year. The parts/support piece is not inconsequential, he was more pointed about it, but he knew what he was getting into. I won't post the entirety of his Socata anecdote, lest I be accused again of casting unwarranted aspersions on antiquey airplanes .
BL, they're not cessna/pipers derivatives from the training fleet years (70s-90s). If you can tolerate that, and can find one in the first place, good airplane as any. Good luck.
I believe it was because they had a baby-TB20 (TB9) from whence he got the 6PC handle: same/similar airframe but with less power and less panache (160hp, fixed gear).
I think it not being a Cessna or piper derivative from the 50's is a good thing
Not saying I agree or disagree, just not sure why you quoted me. My comment only dealt with post-1970 production models, trainer derivatives in particular, and the much more accessible mechanics base and parts availability, compared to Socata in the US.
Oh, that makes more sense. Thought you meant they were just different, and my point was that the trainers of the '70's were based on designs that originated in the 50's.
Yeah no worries, my comment's scope was specifically limited to the proliferation angle and its effect on serviceability across the Country compared to more "one-offy" airplanes like Socatas (in the US). I wasn't really speaking to the performance merits of any of the designs.
I've owned mine for a little over 3 years. I've read a lot of misleading info about them here and on other sites. I'd be glad to address any questions you may have.
As far as headroom in the cabin, I'm 5'10" and have no problems, my son is 6'1" and also has no issues. The seats lay a little more reclined than you'll have in a 182, so that helps. Mine is a 1985, so a G1, the G2's have more headroom, they redesigned the composite cabin.
Got like maybe 2hrs in one, seemed fine, cool panel layout.
go to euroga and look at the moderator Peter he flies his tb 20 all over Europe and has extensive vfr Ifr experience and great trips in Europe
How is parts availability?
Parts availability hasn't been an issue for me, although I haven't needed much. Most of the parts are common, it's just airframe parts that you have to get from Socata-Daher. Most are available in the U.S., if not they ship from France. You can get an account with Socata-Daher and see what's in stock if you have the part #. I ordered parts for my nose gear for this annual, just seals, the parts were actually pretty cheap I thought.
The TB group has a very good and active support group at socata.org. You can get all the parts manuals electronically there, my a&p uses it, said not many other groups that.
Socata-Daher still does support the TB line with parts, but some can be pricey, other things are actually pretty reasonable. A couple things I've sourced from other places. I bought wing tips from Knots 4 U, could get a set for under $500, from Socata they are $2000 each! I also got a used squat switch from a place scrapping out a TB20, about $400 for a used one, $2100 for a new one.
I think you'll find the same thing with about any manufacture, I've heard Bonanza parts can be outrages too.
The Epsilon is a bit of a special case. Socata never wanted them to fall into civilian hands and has no plans on supporting them in the civilian market. Recently, a batch of french TB30s was sold as surplus and someone is importing them to the US as 'experimental exhibition' aircraft. For many years there was only one TB30 in the US and the number is now slowly climbing from that level. Anyone who buys one of these has to be aware that they are buying something that is essentially an exotic warbird.
None of this is an issue with a regular TB20. They were purposefully designed for the US market using US avionics and engines/props. While there are metric fittings on the airframe, everything on the powerplant and related to the instruments is standard fare. Now different from a brand C or P aircraft, there are few if any TSOed after-market options for anything on the airframe. Parts either have to come from Socata, or a salvage yard. They are apparently quite proud of their parts, but not any worse than Textron. On some of the earlier (80s era) TBs, there are some parts that are not available and may have to be substituted with parts from the newer models (at a considerably increased cost). Again, that's not so different from sourcing parts for an early 210 or a 'classic' 50s era Bonanza.
You need to have a shop familiar with the type. If you have to pay a mechanic to learn on your airplane, it can be a frustrating experience. In the end, this is what kept me from buying one about 8-9 years ago. If you live in California, Texas or the east coast where there are a number of shops familiar with the type, this is less of an issue. I was based in ND at the time and the next mechanic with a adjustable metric wrench was in Rice Lake, WI.
THey aRE A CONVERSATION STARTER ON THE RAMP UGH! DDF SORRY GUYS, MY CAPS LOCK KEY IS STUCK. THAT IS NOT A JOKE I AM MASHING IT AND IT WONT UN CAP LOCK.
Ok, Got it.
Um they are great planes. They are fast, the landing gear can take a beating. Forward visibility sucks but after flying Cirrus and Grummans, forward visibility sucks in most planes (I flew a warrior the other day. Might as well been under the hood.)
The only thing I really disliked about the TB was the back seat is not designed for tall people. It is permanently reclined to account for the lower ceiling.
I Like to sit up straight and you really can't in the Socatas.
Visibility out the side is probably better than most planes out there, the windows are YUUUUGE.
Parts are not difficult to find at all even though everyone will tell you they are.
I guess the point is it is like any other plane. It has pros and cons.
Between an TB20 and a Gen1 Cirrus, I would take the Cirrus but the TB20 is a fine plane and I think they are sharp looking.
Very ergonomically laid out. Feels like a sports car.
I worked at an FBO for a while that became a SOCATA dealer. We had Rallyes, Trinidads and one Tobago. I flew each of them and they all felt like an observation deck... Lots of visibility.
They were weird an French, but the STOL capability was worth it!
I'm about 5'13" give or take.
In terms of seat height, there is a difference between the earlier and later models. I am 6'3" and in a late 80s model I would have to fly with a in-ear headset. Also, not much room for your feet on the rudder pedals. Everything designed around a 5'6" frenchman with size 7 Gucci loafers.
Anyone know an TB-20 owner in either the Southern NH area, or East Southern Florida? (SUA to FLL) I would really like to sit in one to see how I fit. Signed up for Socata.org, but most of the people I found on the member map in either of those locations haven't been active in a while.
Seems like a Commander 114 would be a very similar plane with about the same mission and performance. IMO, the 114 is a better looking airplane.
Another option similar to the Socata TB20/21 is the Commander 114, if you're looking for a 4-seat 150kt bird with around 1,100lbs useful.
Edit: @Juliet Hotel beat me, lol. Had the window open to reply and got distracted.
Not completely off topic but was trying to join socata.org myself cause of one for sale near me. How long it take to get in?
Back to topic, seems like you can get two car seats in the back, which is important for my family. Anyone can comment on ease of car seat in one?
Took me about an hour. Not a very well organized website, but there is a lot of info if you dig hard enough.
I had to try twice.
I tried to buy a Trinidad...searched for several months but couldn't find one in the condition I wanted at a price I was happy with. Worried that it would be hard to find mechanics experienced with them, and some of the repairs seemed crazy expensive. Plus, they're a small enough community that I worry they'll be slow to get certified with new avionics and so on. Useful load is okay unless you have AC and TKS, then its under 900 pounds. Flew well, but several I auditioned were 5-10 knots below book speed, and the cockpit glass was great for visibility but hot unless you have AC.
In the end, I bought a Bo for about the same price as a topnotch Trinidad, and got about 20 knots more speed, better avionics, a broader support network, etc.
I'm starting to lean that way myself....
It can be hard to find a nice Trinidad, just fewer of them on the market. When I was looking to buy I wanted 2 doors, so I really didn't consider a Bo, we all have things that are priorities. Most TB20's will have a useful load around 1100 lbs, add AC and you'll lose some, I'm in MN so AC wasn't a priority. I think only the TB21's came with TKS (I could be wrong), not FIKI certified in the US. The Trinidad also can be certified as a 5 seater, although few have the 3rd seat belt in the rear, it was an option. They have no issues with W/B, and with 86 gal usable in 2 tanks the range is really good. I typically cruise at 65% power, burning around 13gal/hr ROP, at 8500-10500 I'll true out at 154kts.
It's also hard to compare with the Bo's. Trinidad's started production in the mid 80's, ending just after 2000. So, comparing same age airframe you have to compare to the 36, which TB's will typically be $100k less. The 36 is a bigger plane. I don't know much about the Bo's but it look like the 35's ended production in the early 80's, so you may have 20 yrs difference in age.
When I purchased mine it had a very capable IFR panel.... Garmin 430W, Stec 50 auto pilot, typical setup. I've swapped out the G 430 for an Avidyne IFD440, added a G5, GTX345 and just recently a MVP 50. So adding new electronics hasn't been an issue for me. Now, newer autopilots are slow to get certified, but the Trinadad's aren't alone, I see pilots on Beechtalk complaining about that too.
@GBSoren, if you don't mind disclosing, what's the MX picture like for a Trini? I get "same as any aircraft" all the way up to "...better than a Comanche."
My MX hasn't been bad. Like I said in an earlier post, you sometimes have to be a little "resourceful", but I've gotten help from the owners group on where to get some parts. The biggest one was the squat switch. They rarely fail, but the wires coming out of them can get brittle over time and tend to break so close to the switch that they cannot be spliced. The company that made the original switch no longer makes them for the 14v (early TB20's) planes, so new replacements can be very expensive if you can find one! With the help of Andrew, the mod of the owners group website, I was able to get one off a salvage plane for under $500.
My annuals typically will run $1500-$2000, I helped last year so it was on the low side. This year we did the MVP 50 install along with the RMD wingtips from Knot2U, so labor was included into the annual. I'm lucky, even though my local A&P didn't have experience with the TB he didn't mind working on them. After doing a couple annuals he says they really aren't much different and any other plane. He uses the annual checklist provided at the Socata.org site.
Outside of that I've had a landing gear pump replaced, that was around $1000, it's the same pump used in the Arrows I think. I've had the magneto rebuilt at the 500hr inspection, standard cost as any other plane, several other planes used the same Lycoming motor.
That's about it, I'd say it's closer to "same as any other" than anything else. Owners that own both a TB series and another plane claim they are actually easier to source parts for than some older planes, I can't confirm this, this is the first airplane I've owned.
One thing I can say is insurance companies must like them. I'm under 500hrs (most of it in my TB), no IFR rating, and my premium is $1200/yr.
I fly a TB20 in Europe. I can say it's a nice IFR tourer, VERY comfortable for long flights. The panel has a nice and intuitive layout, it feels like a 90s French sports car.
The height issue is highly exaggerated, I am 184cm and I can wear my Bose A20 with no issues.
With a pair of GNSs or GTNs and a nice autopilot, it flies like a breeze at around 155 knots at 8,000 feet, burning about 14 gallons per hour. Minne has TKS panels installed, which in Europe is highly valued.
If you can find a good generation 1 for let's say $90,000 and later install $30,000 worth of new avionics, it can successfully compete with any Cirrus pre GT3, with much more comfortable long rides.
You can still find most of the parts from Socata/Daher and their dealers.
Add some nice leather seats and you're good to go for another 10 years.
The guy that runs the owners support group is out of Spruce Creek near Daytona. Andrew Knott is his name.
My flying club has owned one for several years. Nice airplane, very comfortable, no big maintenance issues. I have probably a couple hundred hours in it, and have no complaints. Our A&P had previous experience with them, but aside from a few quirks, they're not difficult to work on. Ours is for sale. Our club checkout requirement is rather stringent, and not as many members fly her as we'd like. We're looking to move back to a 182 or a Dakota or something, so more members can utilize our "nicer" airplane. If the OP is anywhere near Syracuse, you're welcome to come check it out.