Another MU-2 Crash Prompts Congressman To Act

Tancredo Says Plane Has 'Abysmal Flight Safety Record'

Another deadly crash,involving the Mitsubishi MU-2 aircraft has renewed efforts by a Colorado congressman to have that plane grounded.

Two of the same type of aircraft crashed at Centennial Airport in the past 13 months, killing three pilots.

An ongoing 7NEWS investigation has raised significant questions about the safety of the MU-2.

And after the latest fatal crash, where two pilots were killed over the Christmas holiday in Canada, Rep. Tom Tancredo has called for Congressional hearings into what he calls the "abysmal flight safety record and manufacturer coverups."

"I believe there that there is something intrinsically wrong with this plane. I'm going to tell you right now that we're going to have more. Unless something is done, I believe we're going to have more of these crashes," said Tancredo.

The crash of a Mitsubishi MU-2 in Terrace, British Columbia, is the 12th in less than two years. Fourteen people have died so far. Yet the plane's manufacturer and the Federal Aviation Administration contend the problem is not the plane -- it is pilots who simply don't know how to fly it.

"If indeed the FAA is right, that this plane keeps falling out of the sky because of pilot error, then I'm going to tell you this plane is too complicated because on the continent we don't have good enough pilots to fly this thing, so it should still be grounded. I don't really believe it is pilot error," Tancredo said.

The latest crash is eerily similar to a fatal crash in December 2004 that killed Paul Kresiak and Tuck Presba on takeoff from Centennial Airport. The Canadian accident occurred as the MU-2 tried to turn at low altitude and slower speed.

"I wish I could say we were surprised and shocked but we weren't. As a matter of fact our thoughts to each other were, 'Right on schedule. Another one,'" said Jim Presba, Tuck Presba's father.

Since the death of their son, Jim and Linda Presba have been working with other surviving families, trying to get the MU-2 grounded because most crashes involve much more than pilot judgment.

"Training the pilots more is not going to be effective in preventing engine-out problems in low and slow conditions, on approach or shortly after takeoff. That is what is causing these airplanes to crash, not the men and women who are flying them," Presba said.

After this latest crash, Tancredo sent a letter to the National Transportation Safety Board which asks "the NTSB to conduct a 'special safety study' to determine what is causing the unexplained, undetermined loss of power (in) engines in a growing number of incidents."

"I think there is no reason for an airplane like this to continue to fly," said Presba.

And that is exactly what Tancredo has told the FAA administrator.

"I fear this scenario will keep repeating itself every couple of months until the FAA takes drastic action to ground this aging killer," Tancredo said.

At the time of 7NEWS' initial investigation three months ago, the FAA began what it called a comprehensive review and safety evaluation, including flight testing the MU-2.

7NEWS has learned that evaluation was completed a week ago and FAA officials say a public report will be sent to Congress within 30 days.

That report is expected to call for special pilot training to deal with the unusual and unique flight characteristics of the MU-2 -- something both the manufacturer and companies who fly the plane have promoted. Critics say that will do little to save lives.

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