Congressman Wants MU-2 Banned

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A Denver television station says, "More than 10 percent of all Mitsubishi's MU-2s ever built have been involved in fatal accidents," and Colorado Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo plans to introduce a bill that would ban the Mitsubishi MU-2 from U.S. airspace until the FAA does a full safety review of the aircraft. Tancredo has also written the president suggesting that FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker be fired over their "failure to act responsibly for hundreds of deaths." Tancredo became interested in the MU-2 after back-to-back crashes of the speedy twin at Centennial Airport, which is in his district. Two crashes in Florida in recent weeks prompted his latest tirade. In December 2005, the FAA performed a safety review of the aircraft, and earlier this year, the FAA said it would require enhanced training for MU-2 pilots but stopped short of requiring a type rating. A Mitsubishi official says the extra training will help. "We've seen overseas, when these training programs go into effect, the accident rates plummet," Scott Sobel told the Walton Sun. Sobel was commenting to reporters about a crash near DeFuniak Springs, Fla., which killed pilot Hardy "Buddy" Head, who family and friends say was a very experienced MU-2 pilot who had trained others on the airplane for Mitsubishi. His daughter, Alexus Purdy, told the Sun that no one in her family believes pilot error caused the crash. Sobel insisted the aircraft is safe but its widespread use as a cargo hauler might be increasing its accident rate because, according to the paper, "cargo pilots have a tendency to fly when they're tired -- at night or in bad weather."