FAA Re-evaluating MU-2 after Recent Accidents

 - April 10, 2007, 7:34 AM

Denying it is re-evaluating safety aspects of the Mitsubishi MU-2 in response to requests by several Colorado legislators, the FAA said its investigation is the result of a “recent increase in the accident rate” of the turboprop twin. The latest accident, which killed the sole-occupant pilot, occurred on August 4 while the aircraft was on an IFR approach to Centennial Airport, Colo. Since March 11 last year 10 more people have been killed in five other accidents involving MU-2s, including two people on December 10 in Englewood, Colo. The FAA said that as part of its approximately two-month inquiry it will examine the aircraft, operational procedures and pilot training. The MU-2 was the subject of two previous evaluations–in 1983 and 1991–each of them following several accidents. No major problems with the aircraft were found in either investigation, but pilot training has been an issue. Specific MU-2 training is not required, and Mitsubishi on two separate occasions–in 1991 and 2000–asked the FAA to require a type rating for the aircraft, which would mandate a specific level of pilot training. The FAA declined both times. Of the more than 700 MU-2s built between 1963 and 1985, some 400 are still flying. According to safety analyst Robert E. Breiling Associates, 251 people have been killed in 79 MU-2 accidents.