Congressman Tom Tancredo wages lengthy battle urging the FAA to ground the Mitsubishi MU-2

 - December 26, 2006, 5:12 AM

A spate of crashes that led the FAA to propose mandatory pilot training requirements for the Mitsubishi MU-2 galvanized Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) into action. Representing constituents Jim and Linda Presba, whose son was killed in a Dec. 10, 2004, MU-2 crash near Centennial, Colo., Tancredo launched an effort to force the FAA to ground the MU-2.

He began with a June 23, 2005, letter to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. “I feel this action is warranted due to the aircraft’s abysmal flight safety record,” he wrote. Citing NTSB statistics, Tancredo urged Blakey to ground the MU-2 fleet “until a thorough review of all MU-2 accidents is made.”

Not long after Tancredo’s letter to Blakey, the FAA announced that it would conduct a safety evaluation of the MU-2. In addition to grounding the airplane, Tancredo also wanted the FAA to impose a type-rating requirement on MU-2 pilots, something that Mitsubishi had already asked the FAA to do.

Despite the safety evaluation, Tancredo continued his campaign with a Sept. 29, 2005, letter to Mitsubishi asking the company to voluntarily recall all MU-2s. And on September 8 last year he issued a press release calling for the Bush Administration to replace FAA Administrator Blakey and NTSB chairman Mark Rosenker because they didn’t act quickly enough on the MU-2.

Finally, Tancredo submitted a bill, H.R. 6058, to Congress on September 12 last year that if passed would force Blakey “to prohibit the operation of the…MU-2 in the airspace of the United States until the Administrator…certifies that the aircraft is safe and the certification is approved by law.” The bill is unlikely to gain traction in Congress and currently is sitting–along with hundreds of other pieces of proposed legislation–in the inbox of the aviation subcommittee.