TYPE: Two seat basic trainer
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: France
POWERPLANT: TB 30B - One 225kW (500hp) Textron Lycoming AEIO-540-L1B5D fuel injected flat six piston engine, driving a two bladed constant speed Hartzell propeller.
PERFORMANCE: TB 30B - Max speed at sea level 378km/h (204kt), cruising speed at 6000ft 358km/h (193kt). Max initial rate of climb 1850ft/min. Service ceiling 23,000ft. Range 1250km (675nm). Endurance at 60% power 3hr 45min.
WEIGHTS: TB 30B - Empty equipped 932kg (2055lb), max takeoff 1250kg (2755lb). Dimensions: TB 30B - Wing span 7.92m (26ft Oin), length 7.59m (24ft 1in), height 2.66m (8ft 9in). Wing area 9.0m2 (96.0sq ft).
ACCOMMODATION: Seating for two in tandem.
ARMAMENT: Togolese aircraft only - Maximum external ordnance of 300kg (660lb) with pilot only, comprising two twin 7.62mm machine gun pods, or four 68mm six rocket tubes or two 120kg (265lb) bombs, on four underwing hardpoints. Inner pylons stressed for 160kg (350lb), outer pylons 80kg (175lb).
OPERATORS: France, Portugal, Togo.
HISTORY: The French Air Force's primary basic trainer, the Epsilon is based on the successful four seat TB 10 Tobago light aircraft.
Aerospatiale's General Aviation subsidiary Socata developed the Epsilon in response to meet an Armée d l'Air requirement for a basic trainer. Initially Socata looked at a jet powered aircraft, then a piston engined aircraft based on the Tobago with two seats side-by-side. When the French Air Force decided it wanted a tandem seating arrangement, the basic design was redeveloped and all commonality with the Tobago was lost.
Socata proposed the Epsilon in two variants differing in powerplant fitted. It offered the 195kW (260hp) powered TB 30A and the 225kW (500hp) powered TB 30B, with only the latter, higher powered aircraft selected for development and production. The French air force awarded the development contract in June 1979 and the resulting TB 30B prototype flew for the first time on December 22 that year.
Testing of the prototype revealed unacceptable pitch/yaw coupling characteristics, so Socata further refined the design to feature extended, rounded, upswept winglets and a redesigned rear fuselage and tail. The first and second prototypes were then modified and flew in this new, definitive configuration from late October 1980.
The first French Air Force production order was placed in March 1982 for 30 aircraft. Socata eventually delivered 150 Epsilons to the French Air Force through to 1989, while Togo took delivery of a total of four machines and Portugal 18, assembled locally by OGMA.
The fully aerobatic Epsilon's fuel system allows it to fly inverted for up to two minutes. Togo's aircraft meanwhile are equipped with four external hardpoints, which can carry gun pods, rockets and light bombs in a counter insurgency role.
The TB 30 also forms the basis for the turboprop powered TB 31 Omega, described separately.