Marines Clear Tilt-Rotor V-22 Ospreys for Flight

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2000 -- The Marine Corps will resume flying its V-22 tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft. Officials said on May 9 that an examination of data from the crash last month that claimed 19 lives did not indicate any mechanical or software failures.

Marine Lt. Gen. Fred McCorkle, Marine Corps deputy chief of staff for aviation, told reporters at the Pentagon that investigators are focusing on a condition called "power settling."

"The data show that the mishap aircraft was in a high rate of descent at a relatively low forward air speed," McCorkle said. "This can result in a loss of lift on the rotor system. Power settling is a condition which can be common to all helicopter flight and is now the main focus of the investigation."

The MV-22 crashed during a noncombatant evacuation evaluation mission April 8. The Osprey was one of four flying from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. It crashed at Marana Airport near Tucson.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Jones made the decision to resume flights and will be aboard the first V- 22 to carry passengers. Gen. Michael Ryan, Air Force chief of staff, asked to accompany the commandant. Marine Corps officials estimate the flight will occur in two to three weeks.

"The commandant is confident our MV-22 Osprey aircraft are fully airworthy," McCorkle said.

The Marines will begin flying the engineering, manufacturing and development test aircraft first, he said. EMD aircraft are instrumented and flown by test pilots who determine the parameters and limitations of the aircraft's flight envelope, he said.

The Marines will phase in flying the production version MV- 22s. Initially, Ospreys will fly with only essential people and then begin ferrying passengers again. McCorkle said the aircraft has performed more than 40 troop-lift missions, carrying more than 700 troops during earlier evaluation flights.

McCorkle said the board continues to investigate the crash. The board will look at effects there may have been from aircraft flying near each other, the winds aloft at the airport and other factors that could have caused the crash.

The Marines have four Ospreys now and will take delivery of another shortly.

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