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Mu-2 / LR-1

The LR-1 is equiped as a communication spyplane. The MU-2 which Mitsubishi Heavy Industries developed was remodelled. With superior in STOL characteristic, it is the aircraft which is optimum to for the small airport. MHI produced 831 MU-2B series airplanes with 397 on the U.S. registry as of August 2005. MHI produced 73 of these airplanes specifically for military use, primarily in Japan. As of April 2006, 64 MU-2B's were being flown by 18 different part 135 operators within the United States.

The Mitsubishi MU-2 is one of postwar Japan's few successful civil aircraft. Mitsubishi MU-2 is business/multi utility airplane with two turbo-prop engines. MU-2 was developed and manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry Ltd., famous as Zero Fighter in WW2, of Japan. MU-2 has STOL (short runway take off and landing) performance. It's speed and maximum range were the top of the world in two turbo-prop engine aircrafts. 755 MU-2s were made from 1963 to 1985. JASDF use MU-2 now as a rescue aircraft.

In the 1950s, surveys identified the need for a fast, economical airplane with short field takeoff and landing capability. MHI responded with an airplane design with the latest state-of-the-art turboprop engines, which provided high cruise performance and efficiency at higher altitudes. MHI designed the MU-2B series airplane in the 1950s using the latest technology and philosophies of the time. The design was for a high-speed, business airplane capable of short takeoffs and landings.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) developed the MU-2B series airplane equipped with state-of-the-art turboprop engines. The MU-2B design provided a high-wing loading in cruise configuration, the capability of carrying nine passengers in a pressurized cabin, a highly efficient double-slotted Fowler flap system designed to run the full span of the wing to achieve short field takeoff and landing capability, and a spoiler system for roll control.

The MU-2B series airplanes incorporate a Honeywell International (formerly known as Allied Signal and Garrett) Model TPE331 series engine and either a Hartzell Model HC-B3TN-5 or HC-B4TN-3 propeller. These multi-purpose airplanes historically were popular with corporate and business users. MHI produced 12 different models with two basic categories of fuselage length: a "short body" and a "long body" design. MHI chose a spoiler system for roll control instead of ailerons, which allows the full-wing span flaps for STOL capability.

In 1963, Mitsubishi's New York trading company proposed a new seven-place executive turboprop airplane for Mooney Aircraft out of Kerrville, Texas. The agreement, which was finalized in 1965, was for MHI to fabricate the airplane and Mooney to assemble and market it. When Mooney Aircraft filed bankruptcy in 1969, MHI organized Mitsubishi Aircraft International, Inc. (MAI) to become a subsidiary of MHI incorporated in the state of Texas. The FAA (Fort Worth ACO) issued U.S. TC No. A10SW to MAI for the Models MU-2B-25 and MU-2B-35 in 1976. The serial number designation for airplanes under this TC includes the letters "SA" to designate San Angelo, the city where the facility is located. The United States is the state of design for TC No. A10SW. This is the second TC for the MU-2B series airplanes, and it also is a CAR 3 certification with special conditions. The airplanes identified in the two TCs are of similar, almost exactly the same, type design.

In 1986, Beech Aircraft Corporation (later Raytheon Aircraft Corporation) took responsibility for the Models MU-2B-25 and MU-2B-35 airplanes under TC No. A10SW. This brought FAA responsibility for the TC to the Wichita ACO.

The FAA type certificated the MU-2B airplane in November 1965; the type certification basis was Civil Aviation Regulation (CAR) 10, which required compliance with a combination of CAR 3 standards and special conditions. CAR 3 standards did not require a cockpit checklist for the MU-2B, nor was the airplane required to demonstrate the ability to complete the takeoff climb with one engine inoperable.

At first, the MU-2B was popular with corporate and business users. MHI eventually produced 13 different models with two basic categories of fuselage length: a short-body and a long-body design. Over the years, corporate and business aviation has switched to other more modern jet airplanes. As a result, the MU-2B is now used mainly in air taxi operations (especially cargo hauling) and as a personal-use airplane. Of the 397 of these airplanes on the U.S. registry, the majority are operated under the requirements of 14 CFR part 91 as personal-use airplanes.

This shift to air-taxi and personal-flight operations increased the exposure of the MU-2B to certain known hazards: more frequent night flights; a significantly higher number of hours flown than in previous operations; an increase in single-pilot operations; and operation by pilots who may not be getting the level and frequency of training that corporate pilots typically receive. This shift in use may have resulted in an increase in the accident rate. Over a 2-year period from 2004-2005, the MU-2B series airplane had been involved in 12 accidents with a total of 14 fatalities.

At original certification, the MU-2B series airplanes provided a valuable resource to corporate operators as an economical means of transportation. As this market has looked to other types of airplanes to meet its needs, the MU-2B series airplane is increasingly utilized in cargo hauling and private operations. This switch in operational focus has put the high-performance MU-2B series airplane into 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. Though it appears in business operations, the MU-2B series airplanes are rarely seen in today's corporate operations. This shift to air taxi and personal flight operations for the MHI MU-2B series airplanes is due to the lower cost, perceived reliability, and speed of the airplane as well as the availability of more modern aircraft for the corporate user.

Compared to similar twin-turboprop airplanes designed in the same era, the MU-2B airplane:

  • Accident rate is about twice as high with the fatal rate about 2.5 times higher.
  • Fatal accident rates in icing conditions are 4 times higher.
  • Fatal accidents involving loss of control on initial climb is 3.5 times higher.
  • Fatal accidents involving loss of control while in flight is 3.5 times higher.
  • Fatal accidents involving loss of control during emergencies is 7 times higher.

In response to the increasing number of accidents and incidents involving the MHI MU-2B series airplane, the FAA began a safety evaluation of the MU-2B in July 2005. The FAA, with the assistance of pilots and maintenance personnel both inside and outside the FAA, evaluated the design, operations, training, and maintenance of the MU-2B series airplane to determine if this airplane continues to meet the required certificated minimum level of safety and to determine what steps may be necessary to ensure their continued safe operation. Performing the safety evaluation provided an in-depth review and analysis of MU-2B series airplane accidents, incidents, safety data, pilot training requirements, and engine reliability. The safety evaluation employed new analysis tools that provided a more detailed root cause analysis of the service history problems of the MU-2B than was previously possible.

The increasing number of accidents in recent years on MU-2B series airplanes prompted the FAA to conduct a thorough and complete safety evaluation involving not only a review of the certification aspects of the airplane, but also including a review of operations, maintenance and training. A data-driven approach was used to evaluate the design, operation, maintenance, and training of the MU-2B series airplanes to determine their current safety level and define necessary steps for their safe operation.

Over the years, the accident rate demographics for the MU-2B series airplanes have changed. From 1966 to 1990, corporate operators were involved in most of the MU-2B accidents. By the mid 1990s, corporate operators largely stopped using the airplanes. In 1997, the corporate accident rate fell to zero and remains there today. Today, the accidents occur primarily in the air taxi category (operated under 14 CFR part 135), primarily in cargo operations. The FAA has followed the service history of the MU-2B series airplanes since certification and has taken various actions to improve the continued operational safety.

The most frequent and fatal type of accident for the MU-2B series airplane involves uncontrolled descent from altitude during or after flight in reported or suspected icing conditions. Accident investigations do not always implicate icing as the primary cause of an accident although it may have been a factor in about 22 accidents, including 17 fatal accidents. The NTSB identified icing as a cause or factor in 14 fatal MU-2B series airplane accidents that resulted in 46 fatalities. During the 1997 SCR, FAA issued ADs and alternative methods of compliance (AMOCs) and took other actions to address the icing conditions. These ADs mandated a number of aircraft design changes and a couple of procedural changes to enhance the safety of the MU-2B when flown in icing conditions. Also there was a mandate watch an icing video prior to flight into known icing and to watch that video every two years. No accidents have been attributed to icing conditions since these actions were taken.

In January 1987, the NTSB noted 10 fatal accidents involving sudden loss of control where the MU-2B series airplane was equipped with Bendix M-4C or M-4D autopilots. The NTSB initially recommended an AD to require inspection, servicing, testing, and scheduled replacement of autopilot components. Review by the FAA, Bendix, and Beech Aircraft found no specific problems with the autopilot that required an AD. After MHI issued a mandatory SB to standardize autopilot configurations and an advisory notice to all MU-2B series airplane owners and operators on the proper and safe operation of the autopilot systems, the NTSB closed the recommendation as "acceptable action." The autopilot has not been identified as a causal factor in any fatal accident since.

The results of FAA's safety evaluation concluded that the MU-2B series airplane is a complex airplane requiring operational techniques not typically used in other light turboprop airplanes. Operationally, it is more similar to turbo-jet airplanes that require a type rating. A type rating is not required for a pilot-in-command (PIC) to operate the MU-2B series airplane because it is not turbo-jet powered and is not considered a large aircraft [see 14 CFR 61.31(a)]. The FAA could require a type rating by amending the type certification of the MU-2B. However, a type rating would not require annual or bi-annual recurrent training. The FAA determined that a type rating alone would not achieve the desired level of safety. Mandating training requirements that go beyond the requirements of a type rating was determined to be necessary to ensure the safe operation of this airplane.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:24:15 ZULU