Aircraft Model Involved in Hattiesburg Crash Plagued by a History of Problems

The fatal accident on May 4 in Hattiesburg, Miss. of a privately owned and operated Mitsubishi MU-2B-60 Marquise was the latest in the history of an aircraft with a questionable safety record, according to Slack Davis Sanger LLP, an international personally injury and aviation law firm that has successfully litigated cases involving this make and model of airplane.

In production since 1963, the MU-2 is a twin-engine, high-wing aircraft developed by Mitsubishi for private aviation. There are two basic types: the original and a stretched fuselage version. The aircraft involved in the Hattiesburg accident, N322TA, was the stretched Marquise type. Since its introduction, there have been 229 recorded incidents involving MU-2 aircraft with 372 fatalities, including the May 4 crash.

Attorney Ladd Sanger, a partner at Slack Davis Sanger and a licensed pilot, has litigated close to a dozen aviation crashes involving the Mitsubishi MU-2 aircraft.

“The accident history of this aircraft is telling,” Sanger said. “Over the years, about one-third of the MU-2 fleet has been involved in an accident, the majority of them involving fatalities.”

The aircraft involved in this latest accident was en route from Wichita Falls, Texas, to Hattiesburg, Miss. when it crashed into a house not far from the Hattiesburg airport. Among those killed aboard the plane was the pilot, Dr. Louis Provenza, 67, a Wichita Falls neurosurgeon, 23-year-old Anna Calhoun, and 2-year-old Harper Provenza.

Also killed was Gerry Standley, 55, of Hattiesburg, a resident of the house. Standley was inside the home with his wife, daughter, and grandson when the plane crashed. The other family members escaped with minor injuries, according to news reports.

Sanger has represented clients in litigation stemming from more than 10 crashes of MU-2 aircraft.

“Many of these crashes have been the result of mechanical problems with the Honeywell TPE-331 engine and the MU-2’s wing design,” Sanger said. “The aerodynamics of the wing design make approach and landing during single-engine operations challenging or even impossible.”

National Transportation Safety Board investigators will examine the aircraft wreckage, instrument data, cockpit voice and data recorders, as well as the maintenance records of the MU-2B in search of clues to the cause of the crash. The NTSB has indicated that it plans to release a preliminary report on the crash within two weeks.