FAA addressing MU-2 "problem" the wrong way, says AOPA

September 15, 2005

FAA addressing MU-2 "problem" the wrong way, says AOPA

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The MU-2B turboprop does not need yet another certification review. The FAA, reacting to congressional pressure, is "rushing to fix a problem that has not even been quantified," according to AOPA.

"This issue has implications for other aircraft as well, because we've encountered other cases where the FAA has tried to address training or operations problems through airworthiness directives," said Luis Gutierrez, AOPA director of regulatory and certification policy. "It's somewhat like using a hammer to turn a screw."

The issue stems from two recent accidents involving MU-2Bs at Colorado's Centennial Airport. That led to a demand from the Colorado delegation that the FAA investigate the safety of the aircraft.

The FAA plans to have its Small Airplane Directorate, which is responsible for aircraft certification, lead a "Safety Evaluation Investigation."

But in AOPA's opinion, that's not the appropriate FAA office to review the possible causes of accidents that might be attributed to pilot error or other causes. The association believes that the Office of Accident Investigation or Flight Standards Service should take the lead. "Operational safety and training initiatives should be conducted by the FAA offices responsible for those matters," said AOPA.

"In addition to the original, extensive certification process for the MU-2B, the FAA thoroughly reevaluated the aircraft in at least two separate reviews," AOPA said. "In all of these examinations the airplane was determined to be safe and airworthy."

AOPA distributed an Airworthiness Concern Sheet to appropriate MU-2 operators, and the response strongly suggested that MU-2B accidents are largely caused by pilot error, not aircraft deficiencies.

The association also volunteered to host a forum for FAA officials, the MU2 Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and others knowledgeable on MU-2B operations and training to "properly identify the true causal factors associated with the recent accidents and to explore possible solutions."

September 15, 2005