Congressman Continues Fight Against MU-2 In Wake Of Canadian Accident

Cites Twelve Accidents In Less Than Two Years
"I believe that there is something intrinsically wrong with this plane." So said Colorado Representative Tom Tancredo to a Denver television station last week.

In the wake of yet another accident involving the high-performance Mitsubishi MU-2 twin-turboprop -- this one in British Columbia -- Tancredo has called for congressional hearings into what he refers to as the "abysmal flight safety record and manufacturer coverups" involving the MU-2. The latest accident -- in which two pilots were lost shortly after takeoff from Terrance, British Columbia on December 20 -- is the 12th in less than two years, according to Tancredo. The NTSB Accident Database confirms 14 people have been lost in eight fatal accidents, with four others listed as Nonfatal. Tancredo

became an outspoken opponent of the MU-2 in the wake of two fatal accidents involving the aircraft near Denver's Centennial Airport, in just over a year. The circumstances involved in the Terrance accident are similar to an accident approximately one year ago at Centennial, when two pilots were lost after their aircraft went down after takeoff. After the latest accident, Tancredo sent a letter to the National Transportation Safety Board calling for the agency "to conduct a 'special safety study' to determine what is causing the unexplained, undetermined loss of power (in) engines in a growing number of incidents." The aircraft's flight characteristics at low speeds and altitudes -- what is traditionally called "slow flight" -- have also been questioned, and it is in those areas most have suggested the MU-2 may pose additional challenges to a pilot unfamiliar with the aircraft's idiosyncrasies. In two previous inquiries into the safety of the MU-2, the FAA has called for increased pilot training to remedy the situation. The agency also recently submitted what it calls a comprehensive review and safety evaluation of the MU-2, which the agency began shortly after a second accident near Centennial on August 4, 2005. Operators of the MU-2, as well as Mitsubishi, have also called for increased pilot training for the aircraft -- but according to Tancredo (right), those responses aren't enough. "If indeed the FAA is right, that this plane keeps falling out of the sky because of pilot error, then I'm going to tell you this plane is too complicated because on the continent we don't have good enough pilots to fly this thing, so it should still be grounded. I don't really believe it is pilot error," Tancredo told Denver's KMGH. Congress is expected to review the FAA's evaluation within 30 days, according to KMGH. The television station began its own investigation into the MU-2 following the August accident.