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Socata TBs - future support etc

Peter, as you are now the authority on all things TB, what is the situation with support, service, parts for these planes?
Are the TB9/10 types a good buy for a flying club these days?

ESSB, Stockholm Bromma

Peter, as you are now the authority on all things TB, what is the situation with support, service, parts for these planes?

Contrary to rumour, there has never been a problem with Socata aircraft parts. I think you might have a problem if you rolled a GT (on the ground I mean) and wanted a whole new composite roof; you might be in for a long wait if they don’t have stock at Tarbes. Recently I asked about a complete elevator and it was something like €9k (very reasonable for a GA plane) and was in stock. I paid about €7k for a vertical stabiliser a few years ago (hangar damage) and it was in stock too. The Mapaero paint (a useless unhelpful company, as many aerospace companies are, especially French ones) took 6 months… but one could have used any other paint.

Service is also no problem because TBs are simple and any monkey can work on them. There are very few unusual bits. Overall I would say the engineering is very competent. Some US owners have reported that their shop cannot work on TBs but you can guess my view on their mechanics

Support is a non-issue. Socata continue to make loads of TBMs and they own the TC. If they went bust and dropped the TC, you could go on the N-reg where the silly European requirement that the TC holder must still be around (for a plane with the complexity of an upmarket lawn mower) doesn’t apply.

Socata’s involvement is almost never required in operations of a TB. They are needed if you have a corroded or damaged spar and for €10k they sell you their ex EASA Part 21 drawings for making a patch/repair… that sort of thing. If you were N-reg you could get a DER to do the same job. There are some people at Tarbes who continue to respond to enquiries, in a small way. Some times I want to get a piece of info (e.g. the elevator rib holes, or the landing/taxi lamp relays – see previous posts) which I could get myself, but asking Tarbes is the easy option, and after several emails over a year I normally get a reply… but as I say none of this is essential to ops.

That’s the short answer – see my long report here for the details.

If you can afford a GT, buy a GT because a lot of small bits have been improved. If you can’t afford a GT then make sure you buy the later type which has the two big access covers at the base of the front window; these ease avionics work massively.

Are the TB9/10 types a good buy for a flying club these days?

Training is not my area of expertise but I think TBs are less suitable for the “stick a boot into the panel” brigade. With clients like that, better to operate a C172/PA28 because they can take the treatment better (I would say they look more agricultural to start with ). The TBs have a lot of (allegedly Renault-designed) trim which looks good and works very nicely but needs to be treated kindly.

A lot of the training business runs on the basis of running planes into the ground and a TB will succeed in that faster than the traditional types – as far as the cockpit interior goes. Mechanically, they are fine.

Historically, a lot of ab initio training was done in TB9s and TB10s and some schools (Far East and such) even used TB20s, so it presumably worked for them, but the 9/10 were too expensive by the late 1980s and their sales went right down. So if you look for a 9 or a 10 you will find most are very old (I did this in 2002). By 2002, a TB10 was about £160k (a TB20 was £195k!) and a C172 was £120k (quoted by CSE at the time).

I don’t know to what extent you can control who flies a plane in a “club”.

Last Edited by Peter at 30 Dec 13:52
Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

a corroded or damaged spar and for €10k they sell you their ex EASA Part 21 drawings for making a patch/repair…

This summer I paid EUR 3,615 (GBP 3,127) including VAT for this drawing.

EGSA, United Kingdom

Was that for a TB? What it the wing spar patch, and how extensive was the patch?

They custom design each one, on the basis of photos, reportedly.

There were numerous reports on the TB owners’ group of figures c. 10k, though it may have been USD.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter

It was for my TB20. Wing spar patch, both sides, due to exfoliation.

Very frustrating repair due to lack of information on the web and confusing information from Socata. Grounded all through summer and autumn.

It appears that owners affected by this prefer to keep quiet but I’ve found that really it’s no great a problem. Socata do have an approved solution, which is customised to the aircraft from photos and measurements supplied to them. They responded quickly, the drawing (which is basically the repair instructions) came about 2 weeks after they received my payment up front. Trouble was that the ‘instructions’ were not overly helpful and that endless clarification mean’t that what could have been a quick repair dragged into months.

I understand that the repair is permanent and the exfoliation does not recur. But I don’t actually know that. Time will tell. Aside from Socata, I don’t think anyone has information on the real extent of this issue. For example, it would be useful to know if it’s serial number related which could point to a poor batch of spar material (extruded aluminium) in manufacture.

I don’t think it’s environment related as I’ve always been hangared, away from the coast. In my view, it’s an exfoliation issue, not ‘corrosion’.

Took extensive pictures with the intention of posting a write up of my experience to help others in the future.

One day, maybe …

EGSA, United Kingdom

What I’ve heard (which Socata deny) was that the exfoliation was due to incorrect heat treatment of the aluminium, possibly together with the wrong grade of aluminium.

I don’t think I have ever heard of a GT with this. There have been many reports of TB10s with it, mostly from around the 1980-85 era (which is most of the TB10s that appear on the market) but I have heard of later aircraft with it and even one TB20 (which may have been you – I met the owner maybe 8 years ago at a PPL/IR meeting).

So it does sound like a batch of metal, but there are the few counter-examples. These may however be explained by the common practice of very slow moving stock in aviation. I think I posted pics here of that P-clip bought recently, with “perfect” paperwork going back to … 1968. There is no reason to operate FIFO stock control – the paperwork is all that matters.

I have had small patches – say 2×3cm – of exfoliation corrosion externally, and these were where water can stand after or during rain e.g. the door sills. I dug them out and primed/painted them and they have not come back. Now I use ACF50 and I seriously doubt one can get any corrosion wiith that in place. I also checked the sides from inside, when the trim was removed for the TCAS install, and it was clean. I am working through an FAA DER process (no kidding) to drill 2 holes in the end caps on the elevator, to enable AFC50 spraying properly and to facilitate a full endoscope check (the recent Socata SB doesn’t give you much access; their thinking is a mystery).

I don’t think the spar is extruded, although it may be extruded to make the original beam which is then milled out to form the I-beam.

Another factor is that Socata use stainless steel rivets in aluminium. This doesn’t seem to cause a problem even over decades unless the area has standing water in it. You will have seen that American TB9 owner who reported massive exfoliation in his elevator. He then went around scrapyards and found that every one had the same. I would bet that he was tying his yoke back with an elastic band (a common UK practice too) which prevents water draining. I thought this had the potential for an emergency AD resulting in a worldwide grounding of the fleet which was why I enquired about the price of a VS. I have since done an endoscope inspection and it all looks clean, and others I know confirm this on theirs. So if there is an issue it isn’t widespread. I managed to establish contact with him but he then went dead – not sure whether intentionally or due to difficulties with writing emails. Would you say that your corrosion might have been triggered by rivets? I’d be interested in seeing your pics, which I will keep confidential.

You are right people won’t want to wash their dirty laundry in public and this was one reason I got kicked out of the owners’ group. Both the US participants and the site owner are extremely unhappy to discuss negative aspects openly, or at all. I was posting on taboo topics which were judged to devalue the “brand”. But this is the same everywhere, with all aircraft. I think the TBs have a much smaller can of worms than any other “IFR tourer” type I know.

Last Edited by Peter at 30 Dec 16:16
Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Thanks for the input Peter.

I don’t think we would have a huge issue with people, the club is rather small and we only have 4-5 students per year, maybe 8 at most.
Currently and historically the club always had Pipers, but I’m trying to think outside the box. The problem may be to locate some decent examples at reasonable prices.
It would seem most on offer are pre WWII… I really like the cabin and remember it to handle nicely, rubbing shoulders just isn’t as fun as it used to be. I think the SRs and TBs are the only basic singles out there with reasonable creature comfort.

ESSB, Stockholm Bromma

TBs are not the only French aircraft to suffer with exfoliation issues – a little bird with a red breast and what the Monte Carlo race is, come to mind!

jxk
EGHI, United Kingdom

a little bird with a red breast and what the Monte Carlo race is

A Robin perhaps but – the race??

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Rally(e) !

jxk
EGHI, United Kingdom
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