FAA Calls Crew Experience Into Question

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The FAA found that the use of MU-2B airplanes has changed. Originally marketed as a corporate aircraft in the 1960s, it is used more today for cargo hauling and private operations. This switch means the aircraft is now "in the hands of pilots and maintenance providers who, in general, have less experience in high-performance airplanes than when it was used primarily as corporate transportation," the FAA said. Those pilots aren't getting the kind of training and proficiency checks that corporate pilots would, and they may operate a variety of aircraft, not just the MU-2B. Further, this shift in usage exposes the airplanes to more frequent night flight operations. Mitsubishi spokesman Scott Sobel told The Associated Press the company stands behind the aircraft's safety record when used properly. "MU-2 aircraft operators need to be trained according to the manufacturer's flight manual procedures, which have been in place for decades to maintain safety standards," Sobel said.