When the FAA amended aircraft stall training last year to emphasize reducing angle of attack over the long-used procedure of limiting altitude loss above all else, training organizations across the U.S. were required to update their curriculums to reflect those changes.
However, Pat Cannon, an MU-2 pilot examiner, told AIN his office is still waiting for a response from the FAA to a proposed amendment to SFAR 108, established in 2008 to govern training in the Mitsubishi MU-2 like the one Perry Inhofe was flying at the time of his November 10 accident. Cannon’s company, Turbine Aircraft Services based in Addison, Texas, was hired by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to coordinate MU-2 training between the FAA and the manufacturer before specialized training was even mandated.
The problem MU-2 trainers face is that the SFAR was established through an NPRM that specifically identifies elements of the aircraft’s operation that Mitsubishi and the FAA deemed critical to flight safety. The current SFAR training profiles dictate the old method of stall recovery, which emphasized minimal altitude loss. Because that procedure was published in the Federal Register, Cannon says it cannot be altered without FAA approval. “The FAA’s 800 branch told us a year ago they were on track for resolution of this problem,” he said, “But we’ve seen and heard nothing recently [about the date for implementing the change].”
Until the change is made, MU-2 check airmen’s hands are technically tied. Even though they are aware of the new stall training standards, they are not allowed to test pilots on them; rather, they can test pilots only to the old standard contained in the SFAR, which calls for minimal altitude loss.