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V-22 Osprey

The V-22 has had at least nine hull-loss accidents resulting in at least 36 fatalities. On 06 August 2017 a V-22 Osprey crashed off Australia’s coast. Twenty-three personnel were quickly rescued following the incident involving a MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor, the primary assault support aircraft for the Marines. But three marines remain missing despite a search operation supported by aircraft and ships.

The US Marine Corps later called off search and rescue efforts for three missing service members “Operations have now shifted to recovery efforts. The next-of-kin for the three missing Marines have been notified,” US Marines based in Japan said in a statement. “As the sea state permits, recovery efforts will be conducted to further search, assess and survey the area, in coordination and with assistance from the Australian Defence Force.” The Marines said the recovery and salvage operations could take several months to complete, while the cause of the incident was currently being investigated.

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga expressed anger over a crash on Saturday of a US military Osprey transport plane off the coast of Australia. The particular aircraft had been deployed at the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture. Onaga said the crash is no surprise. Onaga said investigations by the US military are not reliable, and that the Japanese government is unable to make any comments regarding their procedures.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera asked the US military to refrain from flying Ospreys in Japan until more information on a recent accident involving the aircraft becomes available. Despite his request, an Osprey took off from the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa on the morning of 07 August 2017. Onodera met the Deputy Commander of US Forces in Japan, Major General Charles Chiarotti, at the Defense Ministry. He told the deputy commander that there are still concerns over the safety of the aircraft. He said he will continue to seek the US military's refrainment from flying Ospreys and ask it to give maximum consideration to safety. The deputy commander reportedly explained that the Osprey flight was conducted after its safety was confirmed and as it was judged necessary in operational terms.

Japan-US joint drills involving 6 Ospreys were scheduled to start in Hokkaido, northern Japan, on Thursday 10 August 2017. Onodera told reporters that after the cause of the accident is determined, Japan and the United States would discuss whether to use the Ospreys in the drills.

The unfavorable safety reputaton of the Osprey dates back to the testing period between 1991 and 2000, when Ospreys crashed four times in non-combat operations, causing 30 fatalities. Since then, the Osprey safety record has been no worse than other comparable aircraft.

The Marine Corps’ aviation safety records and standards are publicly available at the Naval Safety Center website. The mishap rate that the Marine Corps has used publicly for the MV-22 follows Naval Safety Center standards that are applied universally across all type/model/series in the Navy and Marine Corps inventory. Those records bear out that the MV-22 has the lowest Class A flight mishap rate of any tactical rotorcraft in the Marine Corps fleet over the 10 years 2001-2011. The Marine Corps does not include CV-22 mishap rates when talking about the MV-22 Osprey.

Since achieving IOC in 2007, by late 2011 the MV-22 had made 3 deployments to Iraq, 4 deployments with Marine Expeditionary Units, and is currently on the fourth deployment to Afghanistan. During those deployments it has flown over 18,000 hours in combat, carried over 129,000 personnel and over 5.7 million pounds of cargo.


  1. 11 June 1991 -- An Osprey crashed three minutes into its maiden demonstration flight at a Boeing helicopter flight test center in Wilmington, DE. There were no serious injuries in the crash, which was blamed on gyro wiring problems. Two crew members safely ejected, and the aircraft was badly damaged the accident.

  2. 20 July 1992 -- Seven crewmembers lost their lives when a prototype of the V-22 Osprey fell into waters off the Quantico, VA, Marine Corps Air Station. The crash occurred after an engine caught fire as the aircraft was completing a 700-mile non-stop flight from Eglin Air Force Base. mechanical failure was found to have triggered a fire that disabled an engine. The identified design deficiencies were corrected and incorporated in all production aircraft.

  3. 08 April 2000 -- An MV-22 crashed during a noncombatant evacuation evaluation mission. The crash claimed 19 lives -- the deadliest air disaster for the Marines since 22 died in a helicopter crash in 1989. The Osprey was one of four flying from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. It crashed at Marana Airport near Tucson. The mishap aircraft was one of five production aircraft delivered to the Marine Corps for operational use. Officials said that an examination of data did not indicate any mechanical or software failures. In the last seconds of its flight, the mishap aircraft was in a high rate of descent at a relatively low forward airspeed. These characteristics can lead to a condition known as power settling (or vortex ring state) which can result in a loss of lift on the rotor system. Power settling is a phenomenon common to helicopter flight. The primary cause of the crash was the pilot descended too quickly -- 250 percent the acceptable rate.

  4. 11 December 2000 -- An MV-22 Osprey crashed in North Carolina during a night training mission. Four Marines were killed when the MV-22 crashed in a remote wooded area about 10 miles outside Jacksonville. The crash was the fourth accident involving the tilt-rotor aircraft since 1991. The Navy and Marine Corps grounded all MV-22 Osprey flights until further notice. The accident investigation concluded that a leak in a chafed hydraulic line, coupled with a software glitch, had caused the crash. The software problem contributed to the aircraft going out of control, rather than compensating for the hydraulic leak.

    Following the two crashes in 2000, the Navy restructured the V-22 program. New, improved aircraft capabilities were incorporated in block upgrades. The Block A aircraft was intended for use in a training unit; this configuration incorporated modifications to address recommendations from the two mishap investigations and DOT&E’s earlier report. Some capabilities were re-designated as threshold requirements for future MV-22 Block B aircraft. MV-22 Block B was the first configuration procured for deployment and underwent additional testing.

  5. On 09 April 2011 a CV-22B aircraft, tail number (T/N)06-0031, crashed near Qalat, Afghanistan, in the first combat loss of a V-22. The CV-22B impacted the ground atapproximately 75 knots ground speed (KGS) at approximately 0039L during a mission toinfiltrate a team near Qalat, Afghanistan. The Mishap Pilot (MP), Mishap Flight Engineer (MFE) and two passengers were killed in the mishap. The Mishap Copilot (MCP), while still strapped into his seat, fell out of the aircraft, sustaining injuries to his spine and leg. The flight engineer in the rear of the aircraft, serving as the Mishap Tail Scanner (MTS), suffered life threatening injuries to his arm, spine, and legs. The remaining 14 passengers sustained various degrees of injuries. The aircraft was severely damaged. The loss was valued at $87,000,000.00 for the aircraft and $142,911.36 in crew equipment and ammunition.
    The investigation ruled out multiple causes including: enemy action, brownout, vortex ring state, mid-air collision, loss of hydraulic system, electricalfailure, drive shaft failure, swashplate actuator mount failure, flight control failure, thrust control-lever (TCL) rigging, avionics failure, and crew physiological events. A preponderanceof the evidence indicated that ten factors substantially contributed to this mishap: Inadequate weather planning; Poorly executed low visibility approach (LVA); Tailwind; Challenging visual environment; Task saturation; Distraction; Negative transfer [inapropriate previously learned behavior]; Pressing [pushing beyond reasonable limits]; Unanticipated high rate of descent; Engine power loss [one or both of the engines was degraded below acceptable standards].

  6. On 11 April 2012 two 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Marines died and two were severely injured when an MV-22 Osprey crashed in a Royal Moroccan military training area southwest of Agadir, Morocco, while participating in bilateral Exercise African Lion.

  7. On 13 June 2012 a CV-22 aircraft assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing crashed at approximately 6:45 p.m. on the Eglin Range, north of Navarre, Florida. Five crew were injured and taken to local area hospitals. Two crew members were taken by ambulance, while the other 3 were taken via air. The extent of their injuries was not immediately known. The mishap occurred during a routine training mission.

  8. One of the tilt-rotor aircraft in Okinawa ditched on a reef near the island's coast and was badly damaged on 13 December 2016. The US military says trouble that led to a water emergency landing of an Osprey aircraft off Okinawa Island on Tuesday occurred during midair refueling training. The chief of US forces in Okinawa says the pilot of an Osprey decided to land the aircraft in the sea after a propeller was damaged during a midair refueling exercise.

    Lieutenant General Lawrence Nicholson said the Osprey was conducting refueling training with a KC130 tanker 30 kilometers off the main island of Okinawa. A propeller blade was damaged after it came into contact with a refueling hose from the tanker. He said the aircraft became unstable and the pilot chose the emergency landing to avoid flying over residential areas near the Kadena or Futenma air bases.

    Nicholson said the US rules out mechanical failure as a cause, but he said Osprey flights in Okinawa will be suspended until safety checks are done. Nicholson said the pilot should be commended for avoiding potential harm to local residents. The aircraft belongs to the US Marine Corps Futenma air station in Ginowan, also in Okinawa. It ditched in shallow water about one kilometer east of Nago City at around 9:30 PM on Tuesday, local time.

    All five US crewmembers on the craft were rescued. Two were injured. But the Osprey's fuselage and wings were badly damaged. The US military told Japan's Defense Ministry that the craft was conducting in-flight refueling training with a KC130 tanker.

    Japan's Defense Minister Tomomi Inada met the governor of Okinawa following an accident involving a US military Osprey transport aircraft in the prefecture. Governor Takeshi Onaga filed a strong protest over the accident. Onaga said it's very shocking that his anxieties about Ospreys, which he had insisted should not be deployed in Okinawa, have become a reality. He called for suspending their flights immediately and rescinding their deployment in the prefecture. Inada said the defense ministry will collect and disclose all information about the incident, which occurred near a residential area.

    News that another US Osprey aircraft also had trouble on the night of 13 December 2016 added to the concern of Okinawa residents. An Osprey's landing gear system failed and the aircraft reportedly conducted a belly-landing at the US Marine Corps Futenma air station. The aircraft was engaged in rescue work linked to the damaged Osprey.

  9. A US raid against al-Qaida in Yemen left one American service member dead. The US military raid on the militant Islamist group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula compound in Yemen early in the morning on 29 January 2017 that killed a US service member and injured three others yielded valuable intelligence, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters 30 January 2017. Similar site exploitation operations in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq have produced information about terrorist planner logistics, recruiting and financing efforts, Davis noted.

    Three service members' injuries occurred when an Osprey MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft made a hard landing during an operation to evacuate other wounded Americans [this part of the story is a bit garbled]. The "hard landing" is consistent with either a brownout problem with dust kicked up by the V-22, or the Vortex Ring State (VRS) that had been so problematic earlier in the program's history. Davis said that the inoperable Osprey was subsequently destroyed in place by a US airstrike.

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Page last modified: 24-08-2017 19:19:12 ZULU