DoD News Briefing

Thursday, July 27, 2000 - 2:15 p.m. EDT
Presenter: Lt. Gen. Fred McCorkle, USMC, DCMC (Aviation)

(Also participating in this briefing was Maj. Patrick Gibbons, head of Media Branch, Headquarters Marine Corps, Public Affairs)

Gibbons: Good afternoon. I'm Major Pat Gibbons, the head of Media Branch for the Division of Public Affairs. The purpose of this afternoon's briefing is to provide you with the results of the JAG Manual investigation into the April 8th crash of the MV-22 Osprey near Marana, Arizona, that killed 19 Marines.

Since the accident, I think you know we've tried our best to keep you updated on the proceedings of the investigation. Today we are ready to report that the investigating officer has completed the task.

In a moment, we are going to pass out to you an executive summary and a synopsis of the JAG Man -- okay? -- the whole report. Then Lieutenant General McCorkle, the deputy commandant for Marine Corps Aviation, will walk you through those documents. He's going to walk you through those documents to give you a good understanding of what it is that we've learned from this accident and what we're going to do as a result of it.

The complete report, with all of its attachments, is 8,000 pages. It's a very detailed, very complicated document. And in the interest of accuracy, we've summarized the facts into these two lesser documents to hopefully give you a clear understanding without all the other related facts, figures and data.

Now, we chose this forum without the cameras over the more formal news briefing so that we could spend the time -- Gen. McCorkle is prepared to spend an hour with you walking you through these documents. We want to give you a very clear understanding of the causes surrounding this accident and, of course, the steps we're taking to prevent something like this from happening again.

We do have b-roll available for the broadcasters.

Redacted copies of the JAG Man -- and I think you all are familiar with that term, that's the copy of the JAG Manual investigation that's been -- had some pieces removed for privacy reasons -- they will be available as well to those who request them, following the briefing.

A couple of points before I get started, first, as part of the mission to find the factors that led to this accident, the investigating officer conducted a very extensive investigation. He looked at all of the factors that might have led to this accident. He looked at equipment, he looked at maintenance, he looked at operating procedures, he looked at crew training, he looked at all the specifics of the mission and the conditions the night of the mishap. As a result, the final report makes a number of suggestions for improvements in the procedures that are unrelated to the cause of this specific mishap -- issues such as improved maintenance procedures, modifications to various aircraft components, and other unrelated issues.

The documents that you're going to get, the two smaller documents, are being given -- cover only those findings which relate directly to the cause of this mishap.

Although we will be happy to discuss with you those other findings, other recommendations in another forum, and we will do that, we want to limit this to the specific cause of this accident.

One more point: Lieutenant General McCorkle is the investigating -- the reviewing authority for this investigation. He has disagreed with some of the investigating officer's report, some recommendations. There's nothing unusual about that. It reflects really the investigating officer's independence to conduct his investigation the way he sees fit, and offer the recommendations he thinks are appropriate.

The disagreements, however -- they don't affect the cause of this accident. There's no disagreement on the cause of this accident. And General McCorkle will explain to you the rationale that he has for disagreeing with some of those recommendations and findings. I just want to be clear on that. That's one of the reasons we want the general here to walk you on through it.

We will also make the news release available on our website and any other information that we can.

All this information can be attributed to General McCorkle.

And with that said, General McCorkle?

Q: Before General McCorkle starts, if I could just ask, again, about the rationale for why newspaper reporters --

McCorkle: (Off mike.)

Q: General, may we just ask --

McCorkle: Yeah.

Q: We'd like to know why newspaper reporters can quote you by name and television reporters can't show your face on the TV, despite the fact that your previous briefings have all been on camera.

McCorkle: They can show that in that past, if they want to. And that was strictly my decision. I personally felt, as good as everybody's been to me, including you, Jamie, that the last news conference in here was not really appropriate. We didn't have anything new at that time. And the real reason that we did it was just to say, hey, that we're going back to flying and keep everybody updated.

To me, personally, and from the Marine Corps -- and you're welcome to quote me on this on CNN or whatever else -- I feel like -- that there is nothing new, really, in this investigation, that what I'm doing here, in meeting with you all -- in fact, I did not desire to do this. And then I had so many people say, "Well, you know, is the Marine Corps trying to hide something?" And I said, "I'll go down and have a round table meeting." And then it grew and grew, and everybody says, "Hey, we want in the room, in here." And then, "Hey, we're going to tape it," and all the other stuff, and -- which was sort of out my control.

But I felt like -- that at this point in time, you know, with the families who have buried their loved ones and everything else, just bringing it up one last time on TV and having it spread all over the U.S. on TV, you know, when there was nothing new -- and I feel like the same way in newspapers; it won't break my heart if nobody writes a word in the newspapers except to say, you know, the investigation is complete, the JAG Manual is out, or whatever.

And like I said, this has grown far beyond what I wanted it to be. I wanted it to be sitting down off the record, and then somebody said, "Well, if you do it off the record, then they're saying, `Well, McCorkle did it always before; now they got a Pentagon spokesman.'" So that after building that small clock, I realized that there's some people that are unhappy with doing this. I spent two hours this morning with the -- over two hours with the wife of the pilot and spent about an hour on the phone last night with the wife of the co- pilot of the lead aircraft. And I personally feel like it's just time to put it to bed, which I wanted to do off the record.

Q: I'll let you get on with the briefing, but I'd just like to say with all due respect, and understanding that nothing good ever comes after the words "all due respect", I just don't think that the logic of that makes any sense at all. But you and I can have that discussion at another time.

McCorkle: Does somebody know how to work the light up here? Mr. Bacon, do you, or -- ?

Bacon: This may go beyond my technical capabilities.

McCorkle: Ah, don't worry about it.

Bacon: Can we turn the light on here? We can raise it up and down, but we can't get the light on.

Q: (Off mike) -- taller. (Laughter.)

Bacon: (Laughs.) This is what we've wanted to do all our lives. We didn't know it'd be this easy.

McCorkle: I was going to say, if we got it up any higher I would be like the Queen Mother when they had her with only her head showing behind the lectern.

As Pat told you, what I attempted to do -- and by the way, I will say this not as a pat on the back to the Marine Corps, but in keeping with what we tried to do in the past. And Jamie McIntyre is now gone, but I got this report last Friday, signed, then the CO of HMX is supposed to review it. Those reviews normally take about a month because of the interest in putting this thing to bed was done. I looked at it, I left with the commandant on Saturday morning, and the lawyers looked at it all over the weekend so that we could release it this week and get things done. We've put this into a news release, as you can see. I'm going to run through that. I'll run through the executive summary, and then I will walk through the synopsis quickly, and we'll then answer any questions that you have.

The report, as I've said before, based on extensive engineering investigations, information retrieved from the on-board flight recorders, and interviews with the witnesses, found that deviations from the scheduled flight plan, an unexpected tail wind -- which I hadn't really dwelt on before. I think the first time I came to you all and came in with the cameras, I said that the winds were reported to be calm. They were reported to be calm. The report says that they had a tailwind of 10 to 15 knots, and it says that several places in the JAG report. The best that I could -- or, the biggest tailwind that I could ever personally find in looking at the CSMU data, the Crash Survivable Memory Unit, was eight knots. So if you looked at that, it was eight knots. The 10 to 15 knots that you're going to see, they said -- had from eyewitnesses on the ground. I would think that I could take the smartest person in the room out with me, and I'm a pretty good just of weather, and we wouldn't have a clue whether it was eight knots or 15 knots. But --

And an unexpected tailwind and the pilot's extremely rapid rate of descent into the landing zone created the conditions that led to the accident. Although the report stops short of specifying pilot error as a cause, it notes that the pilot of the ill-fated aircraft significantly exceeded the rate of descent established by regulations for safe flight.

According to the report, both Ospreys arrived at their final approach coordinates 2000 feet higher than had been briefed for the mission. Rather than abort the approach and go around for another approach, the section lead aircraft attempted a rapid descent into the landing zone, followed by the mishap aircraft. Unknown to the pilots of both aircraft, a 10 to 15 knot tailwind -- there, again, it's mentioned -- was pushing them forward, requiring them to reduce forward air speed to avoid overshooting their intended landing zone.

Apparently, neither pilot recognized the danger presented by their high rate of descent and low forward air speed, which is the same in any helicopter that you fly, if you get into a power settling, or a vortex ring state, the official name of it. As both aircraft continued their descent, the mishap aircraft increased its rate of descent while simultaneously slowing the aircraft's forward speed in an attempt to reposition itself from alongside the lead aircraft to the trail position.

Remember I told you before, when he crossed over, that he was at 3 o'clock high; then he moved back into position. I believe that this is when they were passing through somewhere between five (hundred) and 400 feet.

At some point in the descent, the mishap aircraft's low forward air speed and high rate of descent, combined with flight control inputs, induced a vortex ring state, or a rotor blade stall, which caused an asymmetrical loss of lift of the prop rotors. Subsequent control inputs exacerbated their condition and resulted in a loss of controlled flight. Four air crew members and 15 passengers were killed when the aircraft impacted the ground.

"We have learned a great deal from this accident," said Marine Corps Commandant General James L. Jones. The tragedy is that these were all good Marines joined in a challenging mission. Unfortunately, the pilot's drive to accomplish that mission appears to have been the fatal flaw. Although there is nothing we can say that will ease the burdens on their families and friends," the general said, "we share the loss of these Marines, and we will be there for the families of these Marines in the months and years ahead."

Among the steps that the Marine Corps officials are taking following this accident are:

Continuing to emphasize, through NATOPS changes, ground school syllabi modifications and ready room safety lectures that point out the importance of crew coordination and situational awareness, along with the potential dangers associated with high rates of descent and slow air speeds. This mishap clearly demonstrates how the lack of crew coordination and/or situational awareness can cause the air crew to fall behind the flight profile or timeline necessary to safely execute the mission. Further, although the reported occurrences of vortex ring state or blade stall are rare, all rotor craft have the potential to enter this condition, and air crews must be acutely aware of the potential hazards.

Second, continuing to explore the aerodynamic characteristics of the MV-22 to better refine and understand both the flight characteristics and the optimal recovery techniques regarding vortex ring state.

And lastly, investigating the possibility of developing a warning system that will recognize unsafe rate of descent in low airspeed conditions. I personally think that will be very hard to do.

Marine Corps officials also expressed their sincere appreciation to the Marana community's support following this accident. Officials plan to formally recognize the actions and efforts of Thomas Duncan, the Marana Airport manager, and his son Robert, who responded immediately to the accident, in attempting to assist accident victims and later providing significant assistance to the investigating officer. Also singled out for official recognition was the Marana Northwest Fire and Rescue District for its quick response to the accident scene and support during the accident investigation.

The one thing that bothers me about this not being on the air is I think that's something that everybody ought to know. And I put that in there, although the JAG Manual mentions that a couple of times. When you see a lot of people that don't want to help out, this individual that owned the Marana Airport; they said, "You can leave the MV-22 there for year." And he and his whole family were very helpful to us throughout.

Q: General, excuse me. Could I just ask you one thing before you start walking through this whole report?

Briefly, why "human factors"; why not "pilot error"? The pilots made mistakes there. You said they didn't follow the flight plan, in the 2,000 feet the pilot descended to. Why not "pilot error"? Well, what's the difference?

McCorkle: "Human factors" is what the Safety Center has used for a long period of time. And I think, when I walk you through here, you'll see that there were human-factor errors that were committed by the two crew members, the pilot and the co-pilot, of the lead airplane, to put the mishap aircraft into the position that he was in. And both the pilots in the mishap aircraft were in there with "human factors," too. So you have got four individuals right there with "human factors."

Plus, they supposedly had a 10- to 15-knot tail wind. I think it was about eight knots. But they had the tail wind that was in there. And they found themselves in a position where they were following the lead aircraft. Should there be some point when they should have broken it off? Yes, I think so. But I think, as Marines, they were trying to complete the mission.

I am more or less -- when someone mentions "pilot error" to me -- I am thinking it was something that was done intentionally, you know, to take a shortcut or something else. And I, therefore, like the JAG investigation, would call this "human factors."

I'll go through the JAG Manual executive summary. I'm not going to read all this, and I realize that you all have it. The preliminary statement just talks about the aircraft. I've had different people tell me to leave different parts of this out; everybody has their own opinion. I wanted to give you all the media release, the executive summary, and then the synopsis, and go through all those with you and then ask for any questions that you have.

The preliminary statement just talks about where they were, what happened, that it's a tragic event, that the investigation seeks not only to pinpoint a cause of the mishap, but it also hopes to prevent this type of mishap from occurring in the future. For you all, and at considerable work, I might add, anything that you see in here in quotations is pulled directly out of the JAG Manual, so it's not Fred McCorkle's opinion or somebody else's opinion. Anything that you see that's in parentheses or brackets is Fred McCorkle's words, and are not pulled out of the JAG Manual.

Q: What does the MA stand for?

McCorkle: The mishap aircraft. And I'm sorry for not spelling that out for you every time, but MA causes a lot less copying in the long run, and this was actually done, like I said, where most people would normally take a month or six weeks, I wanted to get it out and get it behind us and move on.

The mishap aircraft flight profile in the terminal area, high descent rate and low airspeed -- my words -- most likely resulted in the aircraft experiencing a vortex ring state, which is also known as power settling, and/or blade stall conditions which resulted in departure from controlled flight and the subsequent mishap.

Now, I will tell you all what -- and having talked with a heck of a lot of aerodynamic specialists -- what this really means in layman's terms, to me, in looking at it. When he came in with a high rate of descent and the low airspeed and he was around -- well, above -- 1800 feet per minute rate of descent, I think that he was still okay in there, although he had exceeded NATOPS by quite a bit, since NATOPS says 800 feet per minute at 40 knots. But this aircraft has so much power and is so smooth, I think that he still felt that he was okay. A lot of people say, well, you know, was he looking at his gauges? I think at this point in time he was looking at the lead aircraft, that he was focused on the lead aircraft, and his head was outside the aircraft, you know, trying to make it into the zone.

Was he in trouble at this point? I think that he was very close to vortex ring state, but I think that he was still okay. I think it was when he put in the 15 degrees angle of bank to move back onto the bearing, and he put in the right rudder, that he got into what I would say -- which isn't mentioned anywhere in the JAG Manual -- an approach turn stall in a fixed-wing aircraft, where you're getting slow, don't have a lot of power on, going to an angle of bank, and then one wing falls off and the other one comes up, where you lose lift off one wing and you have lift on the other wing. In this case, the rotors were his wing, even though he also had a wing out there.

The mishap section did not descend as they had outlined in the mission briefs. This caused the flight to begin the terminal phase of the flight roughly 2,000 feet higher than planned. As the mishap section turned onto the final approach heading, they were also impacted by an approximately 10- to 15-knot tailwind. This combination of higher than planned altitude, coupled with an unexpected tailwind, caused the flight to arrive at the LZ [landing zone] sooner and much higher than intended. This necessitated a very steep approach angle and rapid descent rate in order to land in the LZ without waving off or going around. During the last minutes of the flight, descent rates over 2,000 feet per minute were seen as the flight attempted to maneuver into the LZ. During the last few seconds before the mishap, the mishap aircraft descended at rates consistently over 1,800 feet per minute from an altitude of 400 feet AGL [above ground level] and below.

Contributing factors. And something that really hasn't been stressed as much before, although I think that I brought it out. It is our opinion that as a result of Nighthawk 71 -- this is the lead aircraft -- not following the descent profile as originally planned and briefed, that they put themselves in a situation that required a steep approach angle with extremely high rates of descent to land in LZ Swan without waving off and going around. The section leader's decision to continue the approach resulted in the mishap aircraft chasing Nighthawk 71 into the objective area. When the mishap air crew -- or aircraft attempted to match his section lead's profile, neither the crew of Nighthawk 71 or the mishap aircraft recognized the dangerous potential of the flight profile.

And then the conclusion: This mishap appears not to be the result of any design, material, or maintenance factors specific to tilt rotors. Its primary cause -- that of the MV-22 entering a vortex ring state or power settling, and/or blade stall condition -- is not peculiar to tilt rotors. The contributing factors to the mishap -- the steep approach with a high rate of descent and slow air speed, poor air crew coordination, and diminished situational awareness -- are also not particular to tilt rotors.

Testing is being conducted to better understand MV-22 limitations and recovery techniques.

Key findings of fact:

Autopsies were performed on the bodies of all 19 Marines on board the mishap aircraft at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology on 14 and 15 April, 2000. Nothing in the results of these autopsies of any individual revealed any pre-existing condition or problem that may have been a contributing factor in the mishap. Autopsies indicate that all deaths were consistent with injuries caused by high-speed impact with the ground.

A review of the medical records of the mishap air crew revealed no medical abnormalities that could have contributed to this mishap.

And then I go on down to say engineering investigation and analysis of the recovered mishap aircraft components and analysis of the CSMU recorded fault data revealed no evidence of failure or malfunctions which would have contributed to or caused the mishap.

Q: General, can I interrupt you for a second?

McCorkle: I got one paragraph left to go, if I can do that.

Q: Okay.

McCorkle: Finally -- and this you don't have in your paperwork, although I'll be more than happy to give it to you, since this is not out of the JAG -- finally, and while we strive for the utmost in safety, one must always keep in mind that what we do in aviation is inherently dangerous. Whether it's landing on a rain-swept flight deck to darkened missions such as this, we're continually training in such a manner so that we can successfully answer our nation's call in times of crisis. Doing this and doing it safely has been and remains our challenge.

I've mentioned to a couple of you in here before we, the Department of the Navy, with the Navy and the Marine Corps, I think -- and pulling it out of the air -- that we lost 33 aircraft between the two services last year. In 1956, if you go back -- and I'll be more than happy to get you these figures -- but I think it was 1,600 aircraft that we lost in 1956.

An e-mail which I received, which I will also be more than happy to pass on to you, from World War I, where a group commander -- and each wing -- each aircraft wing in the Marine Corps has four of those wings, and each wing has three to four groups in it.

As a group commander wrote, "This month was a very good month. We only lost 34 airplanes in one month." And he said, "Much better" -- this was November -- "Much better than the month of October, in which we lost 84 airplanes."

So for somebody that really does take accidents personally every time that a friend of mine is killed or don't come back, we are striving to do better.

I'll take your questions now, and then my intent, unless -- and I can see this was also up in the air, you know, along with everything else. And if I had it do over with, if I'd have known there was such an uprising, you know, to bring in TV cameras, I would have either done this off the record or would have brought in the TV cameras, one or the other. But it is my intent to go through the synopsis, then the executive summary of that. In the synopsis I want to be sure that when you all go out to print your stories tonight or that they do it on TV, that I give you all the things in here that Fred McCorkle has that I either disagree with or that I feel that somebody is going to bring out later so that somebody don't have to come back and say, "Hey, McCorkle didn't give us this or didn't give us that" down the line.

Q: I'm certainly interested in hearing that part. I just wanted to ask you quickly, does the pilot of the lead aircraft share some responsibility for this accident, given this reference in here to him having --

McCorkle: Absolutely. And --

Q: Any actions been taken against him?

McCorkle: Administrative action has been taken against the crew of the lead aircraft. A Field Flight Performance Board was given to the crew of the lead aircraft, and they went up through the chain of command, just like the investigation did. And they ended up in my office, and I have taken administrative action against them.

Q: What actions?

McCorkle: Well, I will tell you the nature, although that is -- can be made confidential, and I don't have to say this is what I did. But I have pulled the designations of both the pilot and the co-pilot for a six-month period, and at the end of six months, then they have to go back and re-qualify for the designations that they have.

Q: So they're grounded for six months. Is that --

McCorkle: They can still fly. But they cannot fly as the aircraft commander or as the pilot in command for a six-month period, and they don't have any other designations other than that. And I will say it's privileged information since it is an administrative privilege thing that was done.

Q: But two of the four aircrew --

McCorkle: The pilot and the co-pilot. There was no reason to take administrative action against the crew chief or the observer.

Q: So they can only fly as second seat or --

McCorkle: That's correct. That's correct.

Q: They have to requalify as commanders?

McCorkle: That's correct.

Q: On the Osprey or on anything?

McCorkle: On anything. But they're in the Osprey, so -- and that's where they will stay. They're not qualified to be an aircraft commander in anything else at this time.

Yes, sir?

Q: General, a technical question, but in the last page of the synopsis here there are two places where it talks about the calibrated air speed and the ground speed. And in one place it says 40 knots calibrated air speed and ground speed at 40 knots. At the other place it says there was a calibrated air speed of 40 knots and a ground speed of 32 knots. If you got even the 8 knots of tailwind you're talking about, the ground speed should be higher than the air speed. (Pause.) Last page.

McCorkle: Is this under the Findings of Fact?

Q: Yeah, the very last page of your report.

McCorkle: Okay. Which finding of fact is it?

Q: It's -- well, it looks like it's 275 -- 274, 276 are --

Staff: Sir, it's in the back of the synopsis, not in the back -- (inaudible). It's this next document you were going to cover, General. The back of the synopsis, last page of the synopsis.

McCorkle: Okay. Okay, it says the mishap aircraft's last usable recorded data point depicts a rate of descent of 2,760 feet per minute, with an air speed of less than 40 knots air speed, ground speed of 32 knots, nacelle angle at 95 degrees.

Q: How do you get a lower ground speed than air speed, if you've got a tail wind?

McCorkle: Because at this time, it's the same reason he's got a 2,760 feet per minute rate of descent; the aircraft is upside down and inverted.

Q: Okay.

McCorkle: Yes, sir?

Q: Sir, the report points out in several places that this accident apparently had nothing to do with the V-22 tilt rotor technology. Yet another helicopter would not get in trouble, would it, with what would seem like a fixed-wing stall to begin with; right?

McCorkle: And I told this group in here that when I was a first lieutenant in Vietnam and I was in power settling, I was much luckier than these guys in that I was going in in an emergency extract in Vietnam into a 6,000-foot zone. At the time -- and I can still remember it, although it's been a long time ago, as if it were happening now, because I was terrorized, and I don't get scared very much -- at the time I was always start to pull in power and to stop the descent.

Well, the more I pulled in power, the faster I was descending to go in to hit the ground. Where I was lucky is I was on the edge of a 6,000-foot mountain so that I was able to tilt the aircraft a little bit and go down the side. The same time I did I took off power and lowered the nose, which is the procedure. Had I been in the position that these individuals were, you know, passing through 350 feet or so, I'm sure that I would have continued to pull power all the way to the ground and would have continued to get faster all the way to the ground.

I've non-concurred with one of the findings in here where it says although the high rate of speed or high rate of descent or whatever was what caused the accident, this should be looked into because this was not consistent with the departure on things that you would see in helicopters. When General Zinni, who a lot of you have talked to, was an old colonel and I was a very young colonel, I put 16 out of 17 of his Marines in body bags in Korea where a CH-53 had done very much what this aircraft did. And he had rolled into an angled bank and then tried to pull, and when he did I think that he was either in a vortex ring state or settling with power, vice power settling -- one of those two. But anyway, he impacted the ground, had a huge fire, killed 17 Marines. The one that I didn't put in a body bag died on the way to the ship when they were medevacing him out. And I've seen several other instances like that.

While -- and somebody says, well, you know, a helicopter don't do an approach turn stall, and a fixed wing don't get into vortex ring state, the MV-22 is not a helicopter and it's not a fixed wing, it's a new type of aircraft. But there's nothing new in this vortex ring state that we haven't seen in helicopters. And when you're doing 2,000 feet per minute rate of descent and the NATOP says 800 feet per minute rate of descent, then you've exceeded NATOPS by 250 percent.

Q: Well, if I can just follow that, one time, then. Have you decided whether he would have gotten into the vortex ring state if he hadn't had the sort of fixed wing stall to begin with? I mean --

McCorkle: My personal opinion -- and this is not in the JAG Manual, but I've said this to lead aircraft pilots -- and I feel like that I've certainly been perhaps too forthcoming sometimes. But I've said that I think that possibly the mishap aircraft, with those individuals losing their lives, had something to do with helping out the lead aircraft, who was also in a very high rate of descent; not nearly as fast as Dash Two.

But when he started pulling power, he saw that he could not wave off, put the nacelles forward into a fixed-wing aircraft, which is the procedure if you're in vortex ring state, but he didn't take off power -- he added power -- so that he wasn't going to be able to keep from hitting the ground; actually, then raised the nacelles back up, because at 65 percent, they would hit the ground; 70 percent, you can land in a semi-fixed wing, semi-helo. And he impacted the ground at over 900 feet per minute.

To show you the crashworthiness of the MV-22, my CH-46, which I've flown for 30 years, the max rate of descent that you can do without doing damage to it is 460 feet per minute. At 500 or 600 feet per minute, I think the tail would probably break off. These guys hit at over 900 feet per minute and not one of the ground individuals in the back, the 15 passengers, not one of them thought it was a particularly hard landing.

Q: You're saying that the impact which we originally had reported as possibly caused by the explosion of the mishap aircraft, but you're now saying that was (inaudible) input?

McCorkle: There are still, in both the JAG investigation and other investigators say that they think that that possibly may have blown out the ground cushion out of the front. I think that their high rate of descent was in there, also, that possibly the aircraft crashing in the back may have even helped the aircraft in the front -- when they said, "Wave off, wave off," you know -- in getting forward and getting a little bit of forward airspeed.

Yes, sir.

Q: Can you talk about some of the steps that the Corps is going to take as a result of the accident, particularly the one you mentioned about the possibility of developing a warning system?

McCorkle: That was one of the recommendations of the JAG Manual. I have talked to a lot of the real experts over at NavAirSysCom [Naval Air Systems Command]. It is my opinion that it would be very difficult to develop a warning system that would tell you that if you were going into a vortex ring state. And to me, we don't have anything on a fixed-wing aircraft that tells you that you're going into a skid turn stall, as an example. We don't have anything that tells you that you're going into an approach turn stall, because we have procedures that you don't get -- if you get slow and in a high angle of bank in a fixed- wing airplane, then you're in that area.

To me, the warning system is the 800 feet per minute on your VSI [vertical speed indicator], or on your rate of descent, when you're below 40 knots.

And this aircraft, which has an incredible amount of power, you know, has absolutely no problem pulling out of that. Once you're up there, I am not sure how a warning system could be developed or how it could be put forward, you know, into the aircraft.

Q: As a result, do you think -- you're saying the Marines will not look into developing --

McCorkle: We're absolutely going to look into it; NavAir is going to look into it. But this was quoted and pulled directly out of the JAG Manual, that that was one of the recommendations that NavAirSysCom do that. I personally feel like -- and most people wouldn't tell you that -- most generals probably wouldn't tell you that; they would say, "Yeah, we're looking at it" -- I personally think that that would be a very difficult system to do, in talking with the engineers.

Q: I mean, what will we have to think? that -- (inaudible) -- modifications -- can you talk about -- I mean, how many more hours, or what you plan to do along those --

McCorkle: Now, I don't see anything in more hours or anything more in the simulators or whatever. I think that real emphasis is put on crew coordination, with the lead aircraft and the rear aircraft, when we are flying the MV-22. I think real emphasis is also going to be put on following what's in the NATOPS. You know, no matter how powerful you think this aircraft is -- I mean, as I told you all a couple of years ago, you know, when I flew this aircraft that it has an incredible amount of power -- and I think in this case, that the individuals were looking out, were following their lead aircraft, were following their wingmen -- for any of you that have flown out there -- and just didn't realize, you know, that he was going into this position. But I can tell you that, to a man now, all the individuals -- that -- (inaudible) -- stuck OPEVAL -- all the individuals that are being transitioned into the aircraft, they look at that rate of descent on the way down, no matter how comfortable it feels to them.

Yes, sir?

Q: Can I go back to -- you're describing what the lead aircraft did. And could I just ask you to say again what they did differently than the aircraft that got in trouble? Did I hear you say that they went -- put the rudders in a partly forward position for a while?

McCorkle: No. This was after the chase airplane crashed.

Q: Oh, oh. Okay.

McCorkle: Here, as you read through -- and I gave you all so many findings of fact, you know, that -- but there were like 375 or whatever; I probably gave you all 125; I never counted how many -- but I listed each one of them.

The lead aircraft arrived over the departure point 2,000 feet high. Part of that problem -- you say, "Well, why did the guy do that?" The co-pilot, who was going to tell him, "Okay, descend now," had dropped something. I am not sure if it was a map or what it was. But he had dropped something, which everybody drops something out of an airplane or down on the floor; and he was trying to retrieve it.

And the pilot said, "Okay, when are we supposed to descend?" And he said, "We're already supposed to be going down." So they start their descent at about 1,200 feet per minute. Now, this is a long time, you know, before the accident. And I see you writing down -- I believe it's 1,200 feet per minute, but those are listed, so don't hold me to them.

And I think the mishap aircraft said, "Okay, you know, he's starting down," so he starts down gently at about 500 feet per minute rate of descent. He sees that he's fallen behind, and passing through 1,000 feet, the mishap aircraft gets up to about 3,700 feet per minute. And you all can read that --

Q: (Off mike.)

McCorkle: -- 3,700 feet per minute as he's coming through a thousand feet. But when somebody looks at that and they'll, say, "Jesus Christ, you know, this guy's falling out of the sky." He has forward air speed, because then at 500 feet, he actually feels like he's descending too fast on the lead and he starts pulling power and actually goes into a climb. And that's how powerful the MV-22 is, as long as you have forward air speed. And that part may have lulled him to sleep too, you know, as far as here's a guy that's doing over 3,700 feet per minute, pulls in power and actually starts a climb.

Q: This is the chase -- this is the second aircraft?

McCorkle: Yeah, this is the aircraft that crashed. And so -- but the lead aircraft, then, when he's coming in on final, he has about a 1,200 foot per minute, I believe is what's on the CSMU data, and you all have that, about a 1,200 foot per minute rate of descent. And then Dash 2, if he's behind again, you know, and he's looking out of the cockpit following him, so he takes power off again and tries to catch up with him, and that's where he got in trouble, passing through 400 feet.

Q: It sounds like the sequence of events could have started with that co-pilot in the first aircraft having his attention distracted. Is that --

McCorkle: As I've said, and as I've told the families, I think that any accident that you see, that any aircraft, whether it's lost off a ship, whether it's lost in a landing zone, it very seldom is one factor, you know, where you said this is pilot error. It's normally a whole bunch of links in the chain that are broken, not just one link in the chain.

And I think that the co-pilot dropping his map, or whatever he dropped -- and it was a 25-second period, I think the JAG investigation said, that they were trying to retrieve it -- 25 seconds. Then the second link in the chain, you know, they show up over the LZ 2,000 feet high. The third link in the chain, I think that both pilots in the chase aircraft were intent on watching the lead aircraft so that they could both show up in the LZ at the same time. The fourth link in the chain is when Dash 1, or the lead aircraft, with their crew coordination, didn't say, "Okay, why don't we go ahead and wave this off?"

And the lead co-pilot says at one time -- which, you know, giving you all that because they had the word data and now the voice data -- "I think we're hanging Dash 2."

Q: (Off mike.)

McCorkle: Which means, "I think we're hanging him out there, you know, that we have too high a rate of descent, or we're doing something wrong, you know, to drag him out back there."

But after all of that, you know, if you and I go out and we're in two cars together, two airplanes, or whatever else, and I want to keep up with you, still, if you're driving too fast or flying too fast or descending too fast, and I crash, then you bear a large part of the responsibility, but you did not make my car or my airplane crash. You know, I'm the guy that's in there, and my co-pilot; we're the guys that are responsible for it.

Yes, sir?

Q: General, I just want to belabor my question one more time, maybe, because I don't understand. But the vortex ring state -- any helicopter could have that problem. The fixed-wing stall -- any fixed-wing could run into that problem -- (off mike). But if this is the only aircraft that has both technologies together, and if there is a connection between the two, between that initial stall and then vortex ring state, how can you say that this technology is not at least a contributor?

McCorkle: I don't think that the technology has anything to do with it. I think the technology, if anything, when the rate of descent is set at 800 feet per minute under 40 knots, and you're over 2,000 feet per minute and still able to pull it out, you know -- as I would say, you know, it's two and a half times better than a helicopter. If this were a fixed-wing airplane, you know, when he put in the angle of bank or whatever, a fixed-wing airplane would have crashed a long time ago if he was ever down to 40 knots.

So here you've got a guy in a helicopter state, you know, that's 250 percent higher rate of descent than the -- than is recommended. If he were in a fixed-wing position, you know, he's probably 60 knots or 70 knots slower than would be recommended, you know, if he were in a fixed-wing state.

So if you look at the MV-22, and the airplane's still flying, you know, until you finally get to the point to where you're 250 percent higher rate of descent, and then you're at 40 knots and have the 15 degrees angle of bank and the rudder in there at the same time -- so to me, on -- any fixed-wing airplane or any helicopter would have stalled; you would have had blade stall or wing stall a long time before this.

Q: There's one provision in here where you disagree with, "However, the end result, departure from controlled flight, is more extreme than a result experienced in most rudder craft to date." You just --

McCorkle: And the reason I said that -- and I have my endorsement, if you will, on the JAG -- the reason I say that is because of the [CH-] 53D, which the people that did the JAG or this investigation, you know, probably didn't have that experience. The 53D, where I put 16 of those kids in body bags. In fact, four of them, we took spatulas to get out of the ground the next day. And here's a guy that did exactly the same thing. It was a very violent accident which took the lives of 17 Marines. And I've seen that now. When you go back, when you say a departure, you know, once again, a fixed-wing airplane, you can have an approach turn stall; a helicopter, you can have a vortex ring state; and it appears that this guy did both. But he did it after he had exceeded far what you could do on a fixed-wing or far what you could do on a helicopter.

Q: Just to give us a sense, what -- a helicopter like the 53 or 46 or whatever, what is the maximum rate of descent in the NATOPS for that?

McCorkle: Eight hundred feet per minute in a 46 or a Cobra or a Huey when you're below 40 knots. The 53 Echo and the 53D don't even give a rate of descent or an airspeed; it just says high rates of descent and low airspeeds can cause you to go into a vortex ring state.

Q: But that is the same between the Osprey and a lot of these --

McCorkle: That's right. From the data points that these individuals had. And like I said, the aircraft had so much power that individuals had said, "Hey, we've been at 1,200 feet and did it, which is 150 percent." Does that make it right? No, it don't. And I've said, you know, if it says 800 feet, I don't care how much power you've got, you know there have been tests that have been done. And this aircraft was over 2,000 feet per minute.

Yes, sir?

Q: A crew coordination question. In an approach like this, the pilot's got his head out of the cockpit, positioning himself on the lead aircraft, is the co-pilot responsible for watching his airspeed? Is anyone supposed to have his head inside on the gauges?

McCorkle: It all depends. And I'm not sure how this flight was done when you talk about crew coordination.

But normally if I go in I will say, "Okay, I'm going to watch the aircraft; you tell me what my airspeed is," or "you tell me what my rate of descent is." And if you don't, then, you know, when I'm passing through 500 feet, I will say "Rate of descent," which is a question, you know, or airspeed or whatever, if you don't give it to me. And I have no idea what these individuals briefed, you know, on crew coordination in there. But obviously there was a breakdown in crew coordination, in my opinion, in the chase airplane and in the lead airplane.

Q: Is it correct to say that the power settling did not actually start until the nacelles were tilted to some degree?

McCorkle: He was already, I think -- and 95 percent is a full helicopter mode, even though you would think it would be a hundred percent, 95 percent is a full helicopter mode, not just the attitude of the airplane and where it is. And it's my opinion, and you might read something different in the JAG, but I think from the CSMU data that he was at full or 95 percent nacelle before he ever slowed below 40 knots, so that at the time -- and he never got into a vortex ring state or even approached it until he was below 40 knots. So when he was below 40 knots he was in the full helicopter mode.

Q: Was the tilt essentially at 95 percent the whole time, or did he adjust the tilt during the flight?

McCorkle: No, I think that once he went in, once he started going into raising the nacelles, at 800 feet he was still -- I'm not sure where the nacelles were. You can read it in the findings of fact. But wherever they were, he was still well above 40 knots, so he still had a fixed wing airspeed. But once he raised the nacelles all the way up and he was at 95 percent, I'm pretty sure that he was at 95 percent -- I know he was at 380 feet, which is where he first started getting into trouble. But I think that he was at 95 percent when he was passing through 500 feet.

Q: So then it's correct to say there was no sign of trouble until after he had converted into that mode and --

McCorkle: That's correct. Until after he was below 40 knots indicated airspeed, he was not in trouble.

Q: At the moment he got in trouble at 380 feet or whatever it was, what could he have done to get out of it? Flip the rotors into forward and -- would that have done it, or -

McCorkle: At that time I think that he would have still hit the ground with that high rate of airspeed at 380 feet. If at that time he had lowered the collective all the way down and had gone into 65 percent or something, he may have been able to come out of it with a very hard landing.

Q: Well, what could the lead aircraft have done differently? Obviously, you disciplined the pilot and co-pilot for some reason. Was it for going too fast? I mean, simplest put --

McCorkle: When the lead airplane, in my opinion, arrived 2000 feet high at the IP, the initial point, and they started the descent, they came into the LZ where they were going to land -- like if your recorder here is where you're going to land and he says, "This is the landing point under our nose," I think, were the words that he used, and he says, "We can either land long or we can wave it off," was one of the voice reports from the lead aircraft. And then he went on to say, "We're hanging Dash 2 out."

So in other words, he had arrived high, he had done a very fast rate of descent. He was going to land long. And in my opinion, at that time, that the lead aircraft should have said, "Why don't we go ahead and take this one around, you know, and bring it back around?" Now, did he cause Dash 2 to crash? No, because Dash 2 could have said, "I'm going around," you know, "whether you want to go around or not." But there were things, and both crews could have done, and that's the reason I told the gentleman over here, in my opinion, there were several links in the chain, you know? And none of them -- nothing was ever done with intent.

I've seen a lot of accidents caused by cowboys. These individuals were both very professional pilots in the lead aircraft, in the chase aircraft. I've known, as I've said before in here, both pilots since they were first lieutenants, in the chase aircraft. They were selected where about 5 percent of the people that were up -- I was president of a colonel's board that selected about -- well, less than 50 percent. You know, these guys were down, and 5 percent of the people that were up were selected. So they were the very best.

And I think that there was a number of small things, on crew coordination and other things, and it started with the map or whatever that was dropped in the lead cockpit so that caused them to arrive high at the IP and then from there there were other small things that were done, but all of them added up together to put this individual, who wanted to complete the mission and complete it on time, to exceed a rate of descent by a great deal and then to lose control of the airplane.

Q: The president --

Q: Have you got a soft spot for --

McCorkle: No, back here. This gentleman's had his hand up about 10 times.

Q: They were at WTI [weapons tactics instruction], and -- the exercise was at WTI?

McCorkle: That's correct.

Q: (Inaudible) -- they call is very realistic. What role did that realism play in them not wanting to wave the landing off? I mean, normally in exercises they might not mind waving off, but at WTI they try to make it work.

McCorkle: I was the commanding officer at MAWTS [Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron] 1 for the weapons and tactics instructors for three years, and I can tell you that I've seen a hundred approaches waved off from individuals that were either in dust or something else, and they would say they were taking it around.

And when you look at tough approaches -- there is an individual that's right now a colonel, that works for me, that was a captain at the time, and he told me one time, he said, "I've never waved off an approach." And that night I heard his squeaky little voice saying, "(Whites ?) waving off." And I knew that although this guy -- and we all have an ego about flying airplanes. And I think these guys would have waved off very quickly had they known that they were in trouble. I think that they had put themselves into a position where they didn't realize it.

Yes, ma'am?

Q: General, I'm embarrassed to ask this, but I'm not a helicopter pilot so I don't understand. There was no kind of oral warning, whatsoever, there's no unsafe altitude, unsafe rate of descent warning that goes off?

McCorkle: No. Like I said, if you get in a steady turn stall in a fixed-wing airplane, there's no warning that tells you you're in trouble. We just lost an F-18D down at Beaufort, a two-seat F-18, which in my opinion is the greatest airplane that God's ever allowed men to build that's out there right now. Like a Marine, may not do any one thing the best, but does 30 things really well. And these guys were doing ACM, Air Combat Maneuvering, and they got slow, stalled the airplane. There's no warning that comes off. There's no way that you can put a skid turn stall warning in. There's no way that you can put an approach turn stall warning in a fixed-wing airplane. There's no way, in my opinion, and we're looking at it, but that you can put a vortex range state warning into a helicopter.

Q: If they had had more altitude, would --

McCorkle: If they had had more altitude, they'd have had it made, in my opinion, because it could have become a fixed-wing airplane.

Q: You said the aircraft pilot put the throttle controls at a soft stop. Is that full power or is that something short of full power?

McCorkle: I'm not sure exactly where it is on power --

Staff: Charlie, what they've got is a full power soft stop, and then you've got a button you can hit you can exceed standard power. That's a different -- (off mike).

McCorkle: But the full power, in my understanding, is about 95 percent. And I was surprised, quite frankly, at the start -- I wasn't at the end, you know, once you read all the way through it, because as soon as the airplane departed, you know, into the stall or whatever, he's not going to add full -- go to the stop, you know, when the nose is pointed at the ground. He knew at that point that he was really in trouble.

But the soft stop is about 95 percent, I think, on the power.

Q: Could you discuss the impact of the tailwind on -- in this sequence of events? You know, how important was that?

McCorkle: The JAG Manual brings it out as 10 to 15 knots. When I went through on the CSMU data, the most that I could find was an 8-knot tailwind. Was it a contributing factor? Yes, it was. But when I talk about all the links in the chain, I would say at the very best that the tailwind was half a link.

Now --

Q: Should -- I mean, in a fixed-wing aircraft, you land going into the wind if you can, right?

McCorkle: And in a helicopter you do also.

Q: So should they have come in and once they knew that there was a tailwind coming in a different direction --

McCorkle: No, if they knew it. The winds were briefed to be calm. When I came into this group the first time, somebody said, "How were the winds, you know?" And I said the winds were calm.

I went back -- and so many people asked, and they said, "Are you sure there wasn't a tailwind?" And I said, "You can take it to the bank, you know, because I'm going to tell you the truth and what I hear." And then I went back, and they said, "No, winds were calm." And two days later somebody said, "Well, you know there was a tailwind." And I saw a video, you know, of smoke being blown down the runway in the opposite direction. So I said, "Well, maybe there was a tailwind."

Now individuals say it was 10 to 15 knots. Like I said, the CSMU data is 8 knots.

Would it have helped them? I do not think that it would have prevented the crash, had they been coming in the other direction, but I do think that it was a contributing factor. Maybe it was right on the edge between them -- departing flight and doing a real hard landing. Maybe it was. But I -- my personal opinion is that the 8 knots wouldn't have made a lot of difference.

Yes, sir?

Q: Is there anything in the report that would slow down your current schedule to move into full-rate production either in October or December?

McCorkle: No. In fact, I'm really happy that you asked that question, because this is the KPPs, the key performance parameters, for the MV-22. And for you guys, who have sat in here and looked at a lot of KPPs for a lot of airplanes -- and I remember when we did the AV-8, and we were putting wax on the wings of it to try to make it -- make the air speed.

Just to give you a couple of them:

C external: The requirements were 50 nautical miles. MV-22 did 118. C troop lift: 50 nautical miles. It did 93 nautical miles. Land troop mission: 200 nautical miles. It did 236. Cruise speed: 240. Demonstrated 265. And so on and so forth, all the way down.

Self-deployability: When we brought those aircraft back to New River -- and this is after the crash -- when they were up at China Lake, we flew three of them nonstop into MCAS New River, and one of them into Pax River, but -- which nobody has ever done with any rotor- top craft before all the way from China Lake to the East Coast.

Q: So, I mean, it's met most of the laid-out KPPs for the testing?

McCorkle: Yes. It's not all the KPPs -- all the KPPs. Met or exceeded all the key performance parameters.

Gibbons: We have time for just one more question or so --

Q: Can you just give me the -- just it's kind of -- it's not -- so the current milestone three decision is what? I mean, if they --

McCorkle: We're hoping for the milestone three decision for full rate development to be sometime in October. The OPEVAL was complete, I think Saturday a week ago --

Staff: Fifteenth of -- 15 July.

McCorkle: -- 15 July the OPEVAL was complete --

Q: What's that?

Q: Operational evaluation.

Q: Oh.

McCorkle: -- the operational evaluation on 15 July. They have a period of 90 days to write the report. And then the decision's made after that. I think the report will be written before the 90-day period because when the aircraft was being held down by the commandant in respect for the families or whatever they were doing, part of the writing on the report at that time.

Q: (Off mike.)

McCorkle: Absolutely.

Q: Any changes to the flight envelope as a result of this or did the review find the flight envelope for the aircraft was fine?

McCorkle: No. All the experts that I've talked to at NavAirSysCom, they feel like that the 200-foot separation between aircraft is sufficient. They also feel like that the 800 feet per minute and 40 knots or below 40 knots is more than sufficient. Fred McCorkle's opinion that if we went and spent a great deal of money on testing that it would probably go in the other direction, you know, that we could say that you could do a thousand feet per minute at 35 knots or whatever, and I'd just pull that out of the air, and I'll say please don't quote me it's on the record or on the tape or whatever. But at the 800 feet per minute and 40 knots is -- has a large Jesus factor in it, in my opinion. And anybody that don't know that, in aviation the large Jesus factor means that Jesus takes care of you a little bit after that, you know?

Q: Are they very conservative? In other words, you could -- you could --

McCorkle: Very liberal.

Q: Okay. Thank you.

Q: What is this --

McCorkle: Doug and Charlie, the way that you're thinking about it, very conservative is right.

Okay, we'll take -- (inaudible due to cross talk).

Q: Where is this report then in the sequence of the investigation of this crash? Is this kind of at an interim stage, and then this other board, the Air Mishap Board, is supposed to make a conclusion as well?

McCorkle: This -- the Judge Advocate Manual report, the JAG investigation, is the official report on misconduct which looks at everything, you know, to say either we think something was wrong with the aircraft, we think there was misconduct on the part of the crew, we think there was misconduct on the part of the squadron or whatever.

You know, that's what it looks at.

And this is a report that is made public, the JAG report. There are portions of it that are considered to be not public, and such things as autopsies, you know, and -- for families, but I've added in there, you know, that all of the individuals died with injuries consistent with high-speed impact with the ground, and that's in the paperwork that you have.

There are some other things that are out of there, but when you all leave here -- and if you want, there is a copy of the JAG Manual. Now, I've told you most of the recommendations, and they are listed in the media thing. You will find that when you get the JAG, that the opinions and recommendations are not in there. That is because if I give those to you in the JAG, then I set a precedence for JAGs in the future that come out. Like on the CH-46 crash on the West Coast, they weren't in there. But I can tell you, I can assure you to a person that when you leave here, that you have those opinions and recommendations, you know, that you've been given by Fred McCorkle in one way or another, either through the media report or whatever in there.

Now, the mishap investigation is a privileged document which looks at -- and there's a great deal that I've given you all out of the mishap investigation, you know, and I don't say, "This is page 57," because that's inappropriate because that is privileged information which is used by the safety departments, you know, down the line. But I even list in the JAG, it goes through and -- in fact, one of the wives this morning said, "Was there an engineering investigation? Did someone look at the engines?" And I pulled out -- there are three pages that list each one of them as a single line of all the engineering investigations that were done on this aircraft, from the hydraulics, to the avionics, to the engines, to the nacelles, to the rotors. And each one of those was sent back to NavAirSysCom or some other factory, you know, where they've done that.

Q: So there is not going to be another report, or there is?

McCorkle: No, there is not going -- when the mishap investigation comes out, none of that will be released to the press. That's considered to be a privileged document. And just to give you an example, they normally finish up at the same time. I don't think that the mishap investigation will come to my desk for four months from now. And that's how hard that we've worked in order to get the JAG out and get it public for you-all.

Q: Okay. So this is the final word that you're giving us.

McCorkle: That's correct. And the reason, quite frankly, is I would say that at this point in time -- and I've told a couple of people in here that I see nothing new, nothing forthcoming.

That's the reason that I didn't think -- I thought two or three people would show up, that we didn't do it on the air, that we didn't do it with cameras or whatever else, which apparently did not thrill Jamie McIntyre or other people in here. And I am very sorry for that because I consider them to be personal friends.

But as I would say about this is -- you know, that everything has been written on Vieques, you know, which continues and continues and continues. I hadn't seen anything on the Osprey, you know, except that the commandant is still very confident in the Osprey. Since there is nothing new, I am saying: "You know, what is a story at this time? And why would you do something on cameras, you know, when a story is complete?"

As far as I was concerned, the last one that I gave you all, where I brought the charts and stuff in, which was very unusual at that point in time for a mishap investigation, sort of brought to closure, from my perspective, you know, what had happened with the airplane.

Q: So there will be some ongoing relations with the families, and that will be a continuing process for some time then?

McCorkle: Absolutely. Yeah.

Q: The official investigation phase is completed -- (inaudible).

McCorkle: Yes, ma'am?

Q: Could I just quickly get you to recap the numbers? How many Ospreys do you have now, and how many are you expecting to get this year?

McCorkle: We have seven right now. I don't -- by this year -- by the --

Q: The next fiscal year is the way it goes, right?

McCorkle: The next fiscal year is -- (to staff) -- 16?

Staff: Yes, sir. We're getting 16. And so we'll have 25 or so in the year's end.

Q: So if you have seven, including one that you just got, what's it mean?

Q: No, that's the Air Force -- (inaudible).

Q: Oh, the Air Force got them. Okay.

McCorkle: There are two that we were -- that we're taken -- they are going to be delivered this month -- that have been delivered. That will bring us to seven. That does not count any of the test aircraft at Pax River. Those are still test and evaluation airplanes.

Q: Okay. And you are just as confident in the aircraft as you have told us before?

McCorkle: More so than ever, and particularly when you talk to the individuals that are flying the MV-22. As I have said, and without talking about any other aircraft, almost every aircraft that comes on, they'll say: "Is it faster than the aircraft that it's replacing? Will it go as far as the aircraft it's replacing? Will it lift or carry as much?"

And in almost every case, someone can point fingers.

This is an aircraft, you know, that's two to four times better across the line. And I when I gave the KPPs out over here, if I gave those out to compare the MV-22 with the 46, I mean, in some areas it's five times as good. And I would say you take any other aircraft that we've got, to include the Marine Corps airplanes -- you know, on our F-18C, when we started flying it, was it faster than the F-4? No. Would it do other things better than the F-4? Absolutely. You know, was it a better airplane? If you looked at the AV-8 and compared it with the A-4, you'd say it's barely better in this area.

So I'm not talking about the E and F, I'm not talking about the F-22, I'm talking about Marine Corps airplanes here. This airplane is two to five times better in every area.

Okay? Thank you all very much. And I really appreciate all your help.