Interesting timing…

The military announced late Wednesday it was grounding all of its Osprey V-22 helicopters, one week after eight Air Force Special Operations Command service members died in a crash off the coast of Japan.

Full article, HERE from Military Times.
The crash that apparently kicked off the entire grounding is HERE.
The MV-22 is an odd bird, to put it mildly. It’s basically a helicopter flying sideways in the VTOL mode, that then transitions to a ‘normal’ flight configuration like an airplane with two very big propellers.
The downside is there are a LOT of moving parts that have to work in concert to make it all work both on takeoff/landing and the transitions to/from the normal flight regime. It is sad that once again we have a significant loss of life for ‘unknown’ reasons, but maybe, just maybe, they will be able to actually isolate the cause and get a fix that works!
Our Sailors, Marines, and Airmen deserve that, and much more!
Prayers for the families of those lost and their families in this time.


Interesting timing… — 16 Comments

  1. It’s interesting that I have never seen one report that reflects a commonality between all operational failures.You would think at this point the military would create a TIGER team to attack all aspects across all services operating the aircraft. Not certain but based on news reports of all crashes involving military aircraft it seems the OSPREY leads the pack

  2. From the news reports I saw, I was under the impression they discovered the cause when they located the wreckage, and the stand-down was to do a safety check. The Osprey is a complicated bird, but I thought they had the gremlins pretty well worked out now. Shows what I get for thinking.

  3. The Osprey should have never been purchased by the DOD. The Plane/Helocopter is a poor design and unsafe. Why they agreed with the manufacturer to purchase this odd ball is a mystery. Did someone get paid off to buy it for the military? I do not know but it should be looked into.

    • The military has been asking for such tilt-rotor designs for past 70 years or so. XV-3, X-18, X-22, XV-15, etc. all resulted from that. The Osprey is the end result of that, but the teething problems have certainly been costly in blood and treasure. I wonder if they’ve finally been worked out, or not.

  4. Hey Old NFO;

    I was thinking the same thing as Mike V, the Osprey has been around quite a while, I figured that by now they have ironed out all the kinks, Dollars to donuts it is going to be “Substandard Part failure”, the Military isn’t immune to the same Chinesium crap that is being foisted on the commercial world of Aviation and the Osprey has unusual stresses that it operates under.

  5. I would hazard a guess since most crashes have been Marine Corps or Air Force Special Operations Command that the insertion demands on the craft exceed the aircrafts abilities.

  6. They replaced the CH46’s , I could be wrong . I saw two 46’s go down during vertrep/ unreps in the late 80’s early 90’s , tough to watch from an unrep refueling station, no emergency breakaway, ships behind waiting their turn responded as best they could but all souls lost . I believe the Nav uses SH60’s now in that role , but I’ve been out a long time . The CH 53 is a big son of a gun , impressive . The sound of helicopters with the pitch of the rotors wop wop wop chopping the air still makes my hair stand up . Living out in the sticks currently occasionally CH 47’s fly by low can hear them coming for minutes before they’re over the house or nearby , I always run outside to check them out , my wife thinks I’m a nut (well she knows I am a nut ) .

    • The CH=53 has had a long and storied career of crashes and accidents. The CH-46s and CH-47s have had a long and storied career of crashes and accidents.
      The H-60 family has had a long and storied career of…
      Find a military plane or helo that hasn’t had a long and storied career of crashes and accidents and you’ll find the outlier.

      The military does things with their aviation assets that civilian operators just won’t and don’t do. Even the military’s versions of various civilian planes based on the 707 and 737 have had long and storied careers of… because, yep, the military does things to them that aren’t normal.

      The only applicable stress that civilian operators do are aviation firefighters and their aviation assets go down about the same frequency as military assets.

      Hard and long flying in extreme conditions (and while constantly having to fight for money for parts and repairs) puts strains on all aspects of military aviation.

      • Yeah , not being an airedale , I have heard there are miles of hydraulic lines in helicopters . During vertreps the helos would fly a figure 8 pattern from the oilers/supply ships to the receiving ships . Looking aft of my receiving station (rig captain) it looked like the rotor blades struck each other and shattered , dropped like a rock . We were , not quite freaking out, getting ready to do an emergency breakaway , which we had practiced ad nauseum , but , we kept on pumping and the ships in line to get fueled behind us circled back to attempt a rescue , and caught back up later . I want to say it was the Mt. Shasta we were taking on fuel from , but not sure . There were so many oilers , they just appear out of nowhere , right on time . They hit a lot of ports , the cases of stores had all kinds of different languages on them . The Mt Shasta had shasta soda pop on them (remember that ?) . Then as you moved on had American soda pop with labels in Arabic in steel cans with the hard seams . The military , hours and hours of boredom with days of choreographed chaos . LOL ! I am glad NFO has this blog , gives me a place to put down memories , makes me think and remember stuff . I hope he doesn’t get pissed me going off topic . I would like to share some goofy stories about getting tasked to do VBSS , with little to no training in the middle east , breaking away from the battle group on a cruiser . We had the CNO’s son Boorda as our XO , got some chest candy on that cruise !! Best C.O. I ever had was Capt. Ronald Route (Admiral retired) , great Dude , calm as a cucumber , smoked cigars on the bridge wings , just chilling out there in the sea breezes , used to ask me to come out there with him to have a smoke , also ordered up fresh cookies for the balls watch . Great Man .

  7. Hey NFO, used to have a (drinking) buddy that was a russian linguist that flew in P3’s out of Atsugi Japan . He said the Russians would fly up close and he would put an adult magazine up to the window as the russians were alongside and the russians would thumbs up and give a wing waggle , sound true ? He also said he flew in EA6B’s sometimes . Cool Dude , named “Jake” which was a take off his last name which was Polish .

  8. Another sea story , last one . While on the Nimitz , my first ship , we would cruise down south from Bremerton for pre deployment work ups , quals picking up planes from different squadrons along the way . While out in our operating area there was a russian ship we called the Balzam (Russian) that would follow us around and film us or radio intercept or whatever . Had big golf balls on top of it . Never really interfered with our ops , sometimes would unofficially take a spot in our practice battle group formations . As a bridge watchstander in my junior years BMOW , I witnessed we would sometimes radio our intention of change of course or turns to them and they would radio back “thank you U.S. Navy warship” . Funny stuff .

  9. From my experience, large, complicated machinery requires maintenance that is demanding, and is easily broken by the smallest of errors. When things are rushed, or rookie technicians are involved, things can go bad quickly. I imagine the Osprey is more demanding than combat allows, and for those that fly in the critters, every trip must be a nail-biter.

  10. All- Agree that we fly the birds well beyond anything civilians do, and yes, helos and the Osprey DO have a long history of accidents. Still, this many years in to still be ‘looking’ at causes does make one wonder (and yes, fake parts is an issue).

    Boats- All true! We would hold up beer, they’d hold up some cheep vodka (never saw a bottle of what we would consider ‘good’ vodka. If they were coming back from Cuba, it would be a bottle of rum. And yes, AGORs/Balzam were notorious for that.

  11. My prayers for the crew and their survivors. Any accident or incident is always a Bad Thing, and the investigation circus only makes emotions worse.

    The Osprey had a lot of technical problems, with some odd parts and stresses that could fail on short notice, or had to be used in correct order. There were a lot of pilot problems and stressors on otherwise good pilots (rotor-between were killer modes) that got fixed as a result of good test pilot feedback.

    My cynical streak is thinking a combination of substandard or marginal parts and maybe some “enhancement” pullback of pilot training, both to “save costs and increase effectiveness.”

  12. It ain’t a “helicopter”, and it ain’t an airplane.
    It’s a LEAP in technology that came with its own growing pains.
    Apparently there’s a problem with matching up the power being produced by the engines that is taxing the mixing system beyond its limits. I hope they get it worked out. (I hoped they’d come up with a civilian version I could fly in my EMS job.)

  13. Recently read that, per hour flown, the Osprey has a crash rate better than all the other aircraft flown by the military. I’m thinking that they might have meant “helicoptors”, but that wasn’t clear.