A second Level 5-certified simulator for the Mitsubishi MU-2 twin turboprop has gone into service at SimCom’s Orlando, Fla. training center. The simulator is certified to SFAR 108 standards, a special FAA regulation enacted in 2008 to improve the MU-2’s safety record by requiring specific initial instruction, as well as annual recurrent training. The new Level 5 simulator includes high-definition Level E graphics, as well as Google Earth 3-D maps.
Until just a few years ago, the twin turboprop’s high accident rate had some industry experts convinced it was too complex and too difficult for most pilots to fly safely, despite some excellent characteristics such as its short-field capabilities. Many supporters of the slick twin had always believed the real problem was inadequate MU-2 pilot training that skipped past idiosyncrasies, such as the type’s reliance on spoilers rather than ailerons for roll control. Because the aircraft weighs less than 12,500 pounds, a type rating based on specific training (pre-SFAR 108) was not legally required to act as PIC.
Improved simulator training for the model does appear to have proved itself. In the 30 months before the 2008 SFAR, 14 MU-2 accidents were recorded, 10 of them fatals. Since the SFAR, there has been only a single fatal MU-2 accident.
MU-2 production ended in 1986, but 290 of the 703 built are still flying, and 250 of those 290 are in North America.