(Featured photo courtesy of Cpl. Michael Petersheim, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit)
“Due to the fact this aircraft cannot do what it is designed to do (insert troops in forward operating [landing zones] without concrete tarmacs or runways without great risk) our suggestion is to re-purpose this aircraft if they absolutely have to use it or ground it again until the third generation the Valor comes online with all inherent problems worked out,” Determan told Marine Corps Times in an email.
There will always be inherent risk in combat aviation, said Capt. Sarah Burns, a Marine Corps spokeswoman, due to the “expeditionary nature” of Marine operations and missions.
“The Marine Corps is committed to ensuring our aircraft are safe, and that the pilots and aircrew who fly them are thoroughly trained,” she said.
Investigators determined that the Osprey’s left engine stalled last May because it had sucked in sand, dust and other debris. As a result, Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization recommended that Ospreys spend no more than 35 seconds trying to land in reduced visibility conditions, down from the initial recommendation of 60 seconds.
The investigators also determined the Osprey’s pilots were partially at fault because they did not choose another landing site. That does not sit well with Determan, who credits the aircrew’s actions for saving the lives of 20 of the 22 Marines onboard.
“We are infuriated at the Pentagon for attempting to find the aircrew responsible for this crash in an attempt to cover up its many shortcomings while landing and taking off in brownout conditions,” he said. “Careers, reputations and lives should not be ruined because of the many inherent problems with this aircraft.”
A spokesman for Boeing deferred questions about the Osprey’s performance in sandy and dusty environments to Navy and Marine Corps officials.
The V-22 Joint Program Office is looking at a number of ways to reduce the amount of debris that Osprey engines ingest, including improvements to engine air filters and the particle separator that expels debris through a set of blowers, said Billy Ray Brown, a spokesman for Naval Air Systems Command.
Read more at Marine Corps Times