US Military Grounds Osprey V-22 Helicopters Following Japan Crash

Thu Dec 07 2023
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WASHINGTON: The U.S. military has taken the unprecedented step of grounding all Osprey V-22 helicopters, including those operated by the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. This decision comes one week after a tragic crash off the coast of Japan resulted in the deaths of eight Air Force Special Operations Command service members.

A preliminary investigation into the Japan crash indicated a potential materiel failure, suggesting that a problem with the aircraft itself, rather than crew error, led to the fatal incident. In response, Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, head of Air Force Special Operations Command, directed a standdown to mitigate risks while the investigation unfolds. The grounding extends to all variants of the Osprey operated by the Marine Corps and Navy, highlighting the seriousness of the safety concerns.

The Osprey V-22 is a hybrid aircraft capable of taking off and landing like a helicopter but can rotate its propellers forward to achieve faster flight, resembling an airplane. Its unique design, however, has been associated with multiple incidents, raising questions about its safety record. The current investigation into the Japan crash has reignited scrutiny on the Osprey’s mechanical issues, particularly a longstanding problem with the clutch that has persisted for over a decade.

The duration of the grounding remains uncertain, pending the outcome of the investigation and recommendations to resume operations safely. While the Osprey is a relatively young addition to the military fleet, becoming operational in 2007 after extensive testing, safety concerns have persisted. The recent crash in Japan follows a fatal Osprey accident in Australia in August, adding to the toll of more than 50 troop fatalities related to Osprey incidents, including crashes and flight testing accidents.

The U.S. military acknowledges the need for improvements in Osprey safety, with particular attention to addressing clutch failures and ensuring all components adhere to safety specifications. The grounding reflects the commitment to prioritize safety and investigate the root causes of the recent incidents before allowing the Osprey fleet to resume operations.

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