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14th of September 1963

On this day in aviation history one of the most successful post-war Japanese aircraft made its first flight, the Mitsubishi MU-2. Another 3 prototypes would follow.

One of the MU-2A prototypes, c/n 002

The high-wing turboprop aircraft with a pressure cabin was manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for 23 years, between 1963 and 1986. A total of 831 airframes (including 73 military airframes) were produced during this time in Japan and also in the USA. The design of a light utility transport aircraft powered by turboprop engines, designated as MU-2, was initiated by Mitsubishi already in 1956. The aircraft had a high cruise speed and a (relatively) low landing speed. To help reduce the landing speed of the aircraft was fitted with double-slotted flaps over the full span of the wing. This meant that there was no space on the trailing edge for ailerons, as a result of the absence of ailerons, roll control was solely done with the use of spoilers on the top surface of the wing. These highly effective spoilers also eliminated adverse yaw, as encountered with conventional ailerons.

In the early years of MU-2 operations, the aircraft suffered from a bad safety record. Its high performance (jet-like) and low price made it accessible for pilots lacking the experience to operate this aircraft. As the aircraft weighed less than 12.500 pounds it was possible for a pilot holding a multi-engine rating (under FAA oversight) for light twin piston-engined aircraft to fly the MU-2. Under European regulation, a full type rating course was required before a pilot was allowed to fly the MU-2. Accident rates in Europe were about half of those in the USA. To improve the safety record the FAA issued an SFAR (Special Federal Air Regulation) in 2006, mandating (amongst others) type-specific initial and recurrent training for MU02 pilots. Further requirements were a fully functional autopilot for single-pilot operations and FAA oversight on the aircraft checklists.


Many variants of the Mu-2 were developed, with an obvious difference in fuselage length, the "short fuselage and "long fuselage" versions. The long variant had a 75 inch (1.91 meters) stretched fuselage compared to the short variant Both variants were produced in different sub-variants. Differences between the variants were, but not limited to;

  • Engines

  • Fuel capacity

  • Operating weights

  • Passenger versions

  • Freighter versions

  • Propeller

  • Number of cabin windows

  • Cabin pressurisation

  • Landing gear

A total of 18 civil variants and 2 military variants were produced. Although the military varients were basically civil aircraft modified for military use.

Specifications for a long fuselage MU-2L General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 or 2 pilots

  • Capacity: 4–12 passengers

  • Length: 12.01 m (39 ft 5 in)

  • Wingspan: 11.94 m (39 ft 2 in) including tip tanks

  • Height: 4.17 m (13 ft 8 in)

  • Wing area: 16.55 m2 (178.1 sq ft)

  • Empty weight: 3,433 kg (7,568 lb)

  • Max takeoff weight: 5,250 kg (11,574 lb)

  • Fuel capacity: 1,388 L (367 US gal; 305 imp gal) maximum usable fuel

  • Powerplant: 2 × AiResearch TPE331-6-251M turboprop engines, 579 kW (776 hp) each

  • Propellers: 3-bladed Hartzell HC-B3TN-5/T10178HB-11 fully feathering reversible constant-speed propellers, 2.29 m (7 ft 6 in) diameter

Performance

  • Cruise speed: 547 km/h (340 mph, 295 kn) at 4,175 kg (9,204 lb) at 4,575 m (15,010 ft) maximum

  • Economical cruise speed: 483 km/h (300 mph; 261 kn) at 4,175 kg (9,204 lb) at 7,620 m (25,000 ft)

  • Stall speed: 185 km/h (115 mph, 100 kn) flaps down

  • Range: 2,334 km (1,450 mi, 1,260 nmi) at 7,620 m (25,000 ft) with full wing and tip tanks including 30 minutes reserve

  • Service ceiling: 9,020 m (29,590 ft)

  • Rate of climb: 12.0 m/s (2,360 ft/min) at sea level

  • Take-off run to 15 m (50 ft): 661 m (2,169 ft)

  • Landing run from 15 m (50 ft): 573 m (1,880 ft)


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