Cohen to Appoint Panel to Study MV-22 Osprey
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 2000 Defense Secretary William S. Cohen will appoint a panel to look at the MV-22 Osprey program in the wake of the second tilt-rotor aircraft crash since early April.
Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon announced Cohen's decision in a press briefing here Dec. 12.
Four Marines died Dec. 11 when their Osprey crashed near Jacksonville, N.C. Killed were Lt. Col. Keith M. Sweaney, 42, of Richmond, Va., Marine Helicopter Squadron 1, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.; and Maj. Michael Murphy, 38, of Blauvelt, N.Y., Staff Sgt. Avely W. Runnels, 25, of Morven, Ga., and Sgt. Jason A. Buyck, 24, of Sodus, N.Y., all of Marine Medium Tilt-rotor Training Squadron 204, Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C.
The crash was the fourth accident involving the tilt-rotor aircraft since 1991. The Navy and Marine Corps have grounded all MV-22 Osprey flights until further notice. Military officials recovered the aircraft's "black box" in good shape. An aviation mishap board will investigate.
The aircraft was about three minutes out from Marine Corps Air Station New River when the crew sent a distress call, according to Lt. Gen. Fred McCorkle, Marine Corps deputy commandant for aviation. He said the Osprey went down about five miles north of Jacksonville in a remote area accessible only by four-wheel-drive vehicle.
"I don't think there's anything that we can say that would ... make this easier for the families," the general said, "except to say that the Marine Corps is going to do everything that it can do to find out what caused the accident, to take care of these families and to take care of our Marines."
In the earlier accident, all 19 Marines aboard an Osprey died April 8 when their aircraft crashed at a small airport near Tucson, Ariz. The accident investigation later blamed the crash on windy conditions and a chain of human errors. (Also see the related AFPS story at www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2000/n07282000_20007282.html.)
The Osprey is the first operational aircraft to use tilt- rotor technology. It flies like a plane; its two swiveling wing-tip engines and rotors lift and land it like a helicopter.
The Marines plan to acquire 360 Ospreys by 2013, with the Navy and Air Force planning to purchase about 50 each. The Marine version can transport 24 combat-equipped personnel or a 15,000-pound external load.
McCorkle noted that the Marine Corps has recommended a delay in the decision to proceed with production pending further information.
"This program is very important to the Marine Corps, to me, and, I think, to the nation," he said. "We're going to work very hard to see what caused the accident."