United States and Japan ground all V-22 Ospreys after fatal crash

A Bell and Boeing tilt-rotor aircraft belonging to the US Air Force crashed off the coast of Yakushima after potential material failure, according to a preliminary investigation

The United States military has ordered the grounding of the fleet of V-22 Osprey aircraft, manufactured by Bell and Boeing.

The suspension of flights comes after another serious accident with the type, a combination of a plane and a helicopter, thanks to its tilting rotors.

On November 29, a US Air Force (USAF) CV-22B crashed off the coast of Yakushima, Japan, during a training mission, killing all eight occupants.

The Japan Self-Defense Forces, which operates 14 Ospreys and is its only customer outside the US, had already ordered the grounding of its aircraft.

United States Marines Corp MV-22 (USMC)

According to the AFSOC commander, “preliminary investigation information indicates a potential material failure caused the mishap, but the underlying cause of the failure is unknown at this time”.

The measure was followed by the US Navy and Marine Corps, which are the largest operator of the aircraft, with 288 MV-22Ospreys.

The USAF has 52 CV-22s while the Navy has a mix of 27 MV-22s and CV-22s, in addition to other aircraft on order.

Accident history

Launched in the 1980s, the V-22 Osprey was a project developed for many years, since Bell carried out flights with concept aircraft such as the XV-15.

The purpose was to achieve a compromise that combined in the same aircraft the landing and take-off characteristics of a helicopter with the load capacity and speed of a turboprop aircraft.

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The solution was to make the propellers mobile, producing lift vertically and thrust horizontally. To achieve this, the Osprey was designed with small wingspans, with tilting engines installed at the tips.

The maiden flight of the prototype, which included Boeing’s participation in the project, took place on March 19, 1989, but the V-22 only entered service 18 years later, in 2007.

Japan V-22 Osprey (USAF)

Since then, around 400 aircraft have been produced, but 16 of them were lost to accidents, in addition to several incidents during the 16 years in service.

One of the Osprey’s chronic problems involves the clutch system, which has delayed the program for several years.

This is the second time that the United States has grounded all of its V-22s.

More tiltrotor aircraft on the way

Currently, the Osprey is the only tiltrotor in service in the world. Leonardo, however, is close to certifying a civil model, the AW609, whose project was initiated by Bell and Boeing in the 90s.

V-280 Valor tiltrotor (Bell)

The US Army, which dropped the V-22 order early in the program, selected Bell’s V-280 Valor as a replacement for the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk.

The V-280 represents the second generation of tiltrotor aircraft and one of the main differences is a configuration in which only the rotors and transmission shafts rotate, keeping the engines fixed horizontally.


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