US Federal Aviation Administration plans to require specific pilot training for the Mitsubishi MU-2B have been welcomed by the twin-turboprop’s manufacturer. The decision results from a safety evaluation – the FAA’s third such review of the MU-2B – that again determined the out-of-production aircraft meets its original certification basis, but stopped short of requiring a type-specific pilot rating.
Prompted by a series of accidents involving the MU-2B, last produced in 1984, the safety review has concluded the quickest way to address the issues is a Special Federal Air Regulation (SFAR) requiring specific pilot and maintenance training, standardised checklist and the latest flight and maintenance manual revisions.
The decision is welcomed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America (MHIA), which is responsible for supporting the MU-2B, 400 of which are still flying worldwide. “We have been asking for mandated training for 15 years,” says Ralph Sorrells, deputy general manager of MHIA’s aircraft product support division in Addison, Texas.
Requests to require a type rating were turned down by the FAA, says Sorrells, who says the MU-2B accident rate is lower in Australia and Europe, where a type rating is required. MHIA then changed tack to requesting an SFAR, he says, describing the FAA’s decision as a “very positive thing”.
Under the review, Sorrells says, the FAA evaluated the training programme developed by MHIA and will implement it for Part 135 operators, which account for about 65 of the MU-2Bs still flying, mostly in cargo operations. MHIA is now working to develop a maintenance training programme, he says.
“The aircraft is very good value, and can be bought so inexpensively, but some owners will not spend the money to get training or to go authorised maintenance centres and we are seeing an increase in accidents,” says Sorrells. “If you get good training, if you keep the aircraft maintained, its safety record is better than any in its class.”
There have been no accidents involving pilots who have undergone simulation-based MU-2B initial and recurrent training provided by Orlando, Florida-based SimCom since 2001, Sorrells says.
GRAHAM WARWICK / WASHINGTON DC
Source: Flight International