MU-2 Subject Of "All-Hands" Meeting At FAA

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The FAA is holding a meeting today at its headquarters involving all U.S. operators of the Mitsubishi MU-2 aircraft, apparently to provide updated information designed to enhance the type's safety. In a lengthy Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published Sept. 28, the FAA announced it is seeking to create a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) applicable to the Mitsubishi MU–2B series. According to the NPRM, the proposed SFAR would establish new pilot training, experience and operating requirements. The FAA says the proposed SFAR follows "an increased accident and incident rate in the MU–2B series airplane"; the proposed SFAR would implement a series of training requirements similar to those developed several years ago for the Robinson R-22 helicopter series. According to sources, attendance by MU-2 operators at this meeting was "strongly advised." Meanwhile, attendance by FAA inspectors with responsibility for one or more MU-2 operators is reportedly "mandatory."

According to the FAA, a safety evaluation it conducted prior to issuing the proposed SFAR examined more than 20 MU–2B pilot training programs, including three offered by commercial training providers. It found little standardization in how the programs addressed normal, abnormal and emergency procedures. Further, only a few training programs emphasized the type's "different handling characteristics" or any "specialized operational techniques." As part of these findings, the FAA determined that all MU-2 flight training should be conducted with a single standardized training program reflecting piloting procedures found in the type's Airplane Flight Manual. In response, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of America distributed Revision 1 of the training program in August, although its initial distribution apparently did not include all MU-2 operators.