Thursday, June 21, 2012
Osprey crash controversy continues
by Larry Geller
Thanks again to the astute reader who is following the Osprey deployment issue so carefully and keeping us informed.
This snippet from an article appearing on Wired.com’s Danger Room web page should raise further concerns about the wisdom of basing Osprey helicopters at the Marine Corp. airbase in Kaneohe. Note that some of the crashes reported are more than a decade ago.
An early version of the V-22, which takes off and lands like a helicopter but cruises like an airplane, crashed four times during testing between 1991 and 2000, killing 30 people. Since entering frontline service in 2009, three of the Air Force’s roughly 20 V-22s have been destroyed or badly damaged in accidents, at the cost of four lives. Likewise, in the last 10 years the Marines’ fleet of some 200 Ospreys has suffered around a dozen major accidents resulting in several destroyed aircraft and no fewer than three deaths.
The Marines, who tout the Osprey as their “safest tactical rotorcraft,” have used semantic games and fudged statistics to obscure the V-22′s true safety record. The V-22′s rotating engine nacelles are notoriously complex, its engines hot and over-powered and its aerodynamic qualities unforgiving compared to a traditional aircraft.
[Wired.com, Special Ops Commander Sacked After Tiltrotor Crash, 6/21/2012]
This article is about the firing of a commander following a near-fatal crash (please read the entire article at the link above), but the writer notes:
But the Air Force has a history of blaming people even when its warplanes malfunction.
The last link in the snippet above—the semantic games—is interesting. Apparently one of the aircraft took off on its own, was brought down by the crew, but sustained millions of dollars of damage. But that wasn’t counted as a flying accident because no one commanded the helicopter to take off, it acted on its own. Sheesh.
It’s hard to escape the writer’s conclusion:
With 37 people dead and at least two careers shattered, the controversial V-22, through mechanical failure or otherwise, continues to wreak havoc on its passengers, crews and commanders.
A question for Windward residents to raise might be whether an Osprey deployment there would put civilian residents of the area at risk of havoc as well.