On May 16, 1996, at 0853 central daylight time, a Mitsubishi MU-2B-40, N40AM, owned and operated by a private owner, was substantially damaged during landing following a loss of engine power near Houston, Texas. The instrument rated private pilot sustained minor injuries, and his three passengers were uninjured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the Title 14 CFR Part 91 business flight. The airplane departed William P. Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas, approximately 5 minutes prior to the accident.

The pilot reported that while taxiing to the runway for takeoff, he "noticed a fluctuation in my left torque gauge [and] also my beta light extinguished." He returned to the FBO where he restarted the engine, and stated that, "everything seemed normal."

The pilot further reported that he taxied back to runway 22 for departure. After takeoff, at approximately 200 feet AGL, he noticed the left torque gauge was fluctuating, and he feathered the left engine. The pilot stated that, "My airspeed remained at about 115 knots. I was reading 100 percent torque on the right engine. I had my gear up and my flaps were at 20 degrees."

According to the pilot, the airplane required him to keep 20 to 30 degrees of nose up pitch, and he was concerned that since the airplane was at such a low speed, the drag caused by the landing gear, when extended, would stall the airplane. He elected not to extend the landing gear until the airplane was over the runway. After he lowered the gear, the airplane stalled, and the gear collapsed upon impact with the runway.

The FAA inspector reported that the pilot received vectors to an alternate runway, but since the pilot stated that he was unable to make the alternate runway, he was vectored back to land downwind on the departure runway. The FAA inspector further reported that, "He approached [the runway] at an angle of 90 degrees to the centerline. Having executed an additional 90 degree turn downwind, the aircraft stalled and struck the ground on the left main landing gear and tip tank." The landing gear collapsed and the airplane skidded off the runway. Examination of the aircraft revealed the left wing tip had separated from the airplane, and the nose wheel collapse had caused damage all the way back to the forward bulkhead.

Examination of the Mitsubishi MU-2B-40 Airplane Flight Manual revealed that the manufacturer stated in both Section 5 (Normal Procedures) and Section 3 (Emergency Procedures) that, "If flaps 20 degrees takeoff is selected and engine failure occurs after liftoff, continued climb performance is not assured unless the landing gear has completely retracted, the gear doors are closed, and the flaps are at 5 degrees of less."

The manual also stated that step 1 for an engine failure in takeoff climb was to attain an airspeed minimum of 140 KCAS. Step 2 was to set flaps at 5 degrees. In the pilot's statement, he stated that he had trouble climbing, and that he never exceeded 200 feet. He also stated that his, "airspeed remained at about 115 knots." He further stated that, "my flaps were at 20 degrees."

The pilot would not make the powerplants available for further testing or examination.

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