Plane involved in deadly crash has spotty safety record
The plane involved in Tuesday's deadly crash in the Iles-de-la-Madeleine has a spotty safety record.
Pilot Pascal Gosselin and co-pilot Fabrice Labourel were flying a Mitsubishi turboprop, the MU-2.
First built in the 1950s, the MU-2 was involved in hundreds of crashes causing more than 330 deaths.
"The safety record and the reputation of this aircraft is poor," said Daniel Adams, a pilot who works out of the St. Hubert airport.
The plane that crashed was registered in the United States and owned by Gosselin, the owner of Aero Teknic.
"The reason why you buy this type of aircraft is only for the price because it's the cheapest price if you want to have a small aircraft, turboprop engine," said Adams.
Jean Lapierre and his family chartered the plane to fly to the Iles-de-la-Madeleine on Tuesday, after other flights to the island were cancelled due to the weather.
Pilots who spoke to CTV Montreal said that Aero Teknic was only permitted to take passengers on pleasure flights, and was not licenced to carry passengers on a commercial charter flight.
Everyone aboard the plane died in Tuesday's crash.
Gosselin is survived by three children, while Labourel's wife gave birth four months ago.
The number of crashes involving the MU-2 declined drastically a decade ago, following a Federal Aviation Agency investigation of the plane and a demand from a U.S. congressman to ground the plane.
Mitsubishi MU-2 pilot Earle Martin said the plane’s record has since improved.
“In a nutshell, in the late 1970s and early 1980s the MU-2 accident record stood out in a negative way with a higher rate of accidents,” said Martin.
“From the late 1980s through about 2003 and even 2004-2006, the MU-2 record was in line with comparable aircraft.”
The FAA found that the number of crashes in North America was higher than in Europe, where more extensive training was required.
As a result the FAA issued an order in 2008 saying that all MU-2 pilots should undergo extra training in order to learn how the handle the plane.
The MU-2 is a twin-engine turboprop, but it is capable of flying at very high speeds and uses spoilers instead of ailerons.
Pilots who have flown the plane say it handles like a jet, and so those used to other aircraft can make mistakes in the event of an aviation emergency.
Mitsubishi said in a statement that since the FAA mandated extra training, it has achieved a best-in-class safety record.
"The majority of approximately 270 MU-2 aircraft are registered in the United States where the aircraft has a best in its class safety record during the last eight years," wrote Scott Sobel of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America.