Mu-2 Crashes Prompt More Safety Questions

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Two Mitsubishi MU-2 aircraft that crashed in the last two weeks in Florida have successfully raised additional concern over the safety of the twin turboprop. The MU-2 accident record prompted the FAA to undertake a safety review of the aircraft in December 2005. The review found that although the airplane's fatal accident rate is about 2.5 times that of similar twin turboprops, the airplane is not inherently unsafe. The FAA mandated extra training for MU-2 pilots. Last Friday, Hardy Head, 64, was killed when the MU-2 he was flying crashed in rural Walton County, Fla. On Aug. 26, Ward and Barb Walter, a Michigan couple in their 60s, died when their MU-2 crashed near Ormond Beach, Fla. The aircraft "operate more like a business jet than they do a turboprop," FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. "The flight characteristics are more like a jet and the handling characteristics are more like a jet." Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan has raised about $1 billion to develop a regional jet, to start deliveries in 2012. The project would be the first passenger jet built in Japan.