The US Federal Aviation Administration is carrying out a safety review of the Mitsubishi Mu-2 twin turboprop on the grounds that there has been an increase in the number of accidents involving the type in the last two years. Since the announcement a Mu-2 crashed on approach to West Memphis airport, Tennessee on 23 September.

The FAA says it is not merely checking out the aircraft, the oldest of which were built in the early 1960s, but also the operators and the types of operation for which the aircraft is used, and is reviewing the recent accidents to see if there is an identifiable trend or common causal factor. The FAA says that most of the accidents involved “cheque-haulers” – overnight cargo carriers operating under FAR Part 135. The early Mu-2s were powered by Turbomeca Astazou engines, but most now have Garrett TPE331s. US National Transportation Safety Board information indicates there have been five fatal and five non-fatal accidents involving US-registered Mu-2s since January 2003. There are about 500 operating in the USA.

The Mu-2 that crashed at West Memphis had taken off for Gainesville, Georgia when the pilot requested permission to return and crashed while on approach to the airport.

Mitsubishi says it is co-operating fully in the FAA’s review, and has hired former NTSB investigator Greg Feith, now a professor at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, to assist the company in assembling data that might be relevant. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America general manager Noel Takayama says he is requesting that Feith present a safety seminar specifically for Mu-2 operators.


Source: Flight International