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Tue, Sep 13, 2005

NTSB: Pilot Was 'Well Below The Glide Slope' In APA Crash

Latest Accident Involving Controversial MU-2

While the exact cause(s) of last month's fatal downing of a Mitsubishi MU-2 on an ILS approach to Denver's Centennial Airport are not yet known, one aspect is hard to ignore: the plane was flying way too low.

So says the NTSB's preliminary findings on the August 4th accident, as reported by the Rocky Mountain News. The report states the tower controller told pilot Sam Hunter to "... check altitude... your altitude indicates six thousand four hundred... you appear to be well below the glide slope" as the MU-2 crossed a final approach fix approximately six n.m. from the field.

Hunter did not respond to repeated calls by the tower. The airplane impacted terrain 2.6 miles from the runway, according to the NTSB, killing the pilot. 
 
As was reported last month in Aero-News, the crash prompted Colorado Congressman Tom Toncrado to request an immediate grounding of all MU-2s, pending an FAA investigation into the fast turboprop twin's airworthiness. MU-2s are still flying while the FAA looks into the troubled safety record of the aircraft, the third such investigation since the early 80s. A search of the NTSB online database revealed 95 accidents or incidents involving Mitsubishi MU-2s since 1983, including several fatalities.

Mitsubishi maintains that the aircraft is safe, although the company also acknowledges it requires highly-specialized training to operate safely.

FMI: Search MU-2 Accident History

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