Marine Corps News 05/25/2000


By Division of Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (May 25) -- The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Jones, today authorized the return of Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) MV-22 aircraft to flight operations. The return of production MV-22s to flight status, with essential aircrew only, marks the beginning of the second phase of the return-to-flight plan established after the loss of 19 Marines in a crash at Marana Airport in Tucson, AZ on April 8.

Initial flights in the production aircraft will follow a methodical approach used to re-familiarize pilots with an aircraft after an extended period of non-flight status. A combination of simulator and familiarization flights will be completed in preparation for resumption of Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL). OPEVAL is designed to validate the aircraft's tactical application in support of Marine Corps missions and will continue to be flown by the Multi-service Operational Test Team pilots.

The MV-22 is a proven aircraft that has completed extensive flight testing of its technical design and performance, including more than 3600 hours of accumulated flight time. The Osprey that crashed was one of four production aircraft participating in OPEVAL. The MV-22 has safely flown more than 40 troop-lift missions and has carried more than 700 troops during OPEVAL flights.

Following continued analysis of flight operations, the third and final phase of the return-to-flight plan will begin with passengers on board. To personally demonstrate their confidence in and commitment to the MV-22, Gen. Jones and Gen. Michael E. Ryan, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, plan to be aboard the first aircraft carrying passengers. The Marine Corps continues a thorough investigation of the recent accident and is committed to finding and correcting the cause.