Fatal Osprey crash prompts US military to ground all aircraftDecember 7, 2023
After a crash off the Japanese coast claimed the lives of eight Air Force members, the U.S. military decided Wednesday to ground all Osprey V-22 helicopters as a precaution while the investigation continues.
Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, head of Air Force Special Operations Command, issued the stand-down to mitigate risk during the ongoing investigation.
“Preliminary investigation information indicates a potential materiel failure caused the mishap, but the underlying cause of the failure is unknown at this time,” he said in a statement.
The crash occurred during a training mission off Japan’s southern coast, where the aircraft flipped over and burst into flames before splashing into the ocean.
The incident raised new concerns over the safety of the aircraft, which has killed more than 50 members of armed services, including 20 people in four crashes over the last 20 months.
Following a preliminary investigation of the recent crash, which indicated a material failure rather than crew error as the main cause, the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps grounded hundreds of Ospreys, and Japan followed suit, grounding its own fleet of 14 Ospreys.
The Osprey, a U.S.-made hybrid aircraft with helicopter takeoff and landing capabilities, also has the capacity to rotate its propellers and move at higher speeds, like an airplane.
The investigation renews attention on the aircraft’s safety, specifically on its unique design, which is believed to be a significant factor in the reported crashes.
The Marines previously attributed a 2022 Osprey crash to clutch failure and stated that future incidents “are impossible to prevent” without improvements to “flight control system software, drivetrain component material strength, and robust inspection requirements,” according to a post-crash report.
With News Wire Services