On Aug. 5, a Japan-based U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey carrying 26 Marines crashed off the eastern coast of Australia. Three Marines were killed during the crash, adding to the growing list of victims the aircraft, also known as “The Widowmaker,” has claimed since testing began in 1991, according to Righting Injustice. By 2000, Fortune notes, four non-combat Osprey crashes claimed 30 lives and nearly a dozen more since then. The aircraft is a hybrid tilt-rotor aircraft that was designed to function as both an airplane and a helicopter.
In less than a year, three Osprey aircraft have crashed, including another Japan-based Osprey that crashed last December during a flight training exercise off the coast of Japan, as discussed in a previous Report. The following month, another Osprey crashed while on a mission in Yemen, killing one U.S. Navy Seal and injuring three others.
The latest Osprey to crash was assigned to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa – also home to the Osprey that crashed last December. The V-22 crashed while attempting to land on aircraft carrier USS Green Bay after launching from another aircraft carrier, USS Bonhomme Richard, while conducting regularly scheduled operations. The crash is still under investigation and no cause has been made public; however, the military noted that the USS Green Bay was damaged during the crash and left inoperable.
Following the tragic crash, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera asked the U.S. to cease all flight operations of the V-22 in Japan out of concern for the residents in the path of the deadly aircraft. Okinawa officials echoed the request, AviationPros reports, but the request was rejected by U.S. military officials unmoved by the Japanese officials’ concerns. Instead, the military put in place “a 48-hour operational pause to review unity safety” and launched an investigation of the latest deadly crash, among other actions. In fact, the V-22 made its debut in the inaugural Northern Viper joint defense exercise between the U.S. and Japan on Aug. 18.
Residents in Japan, especially locals in Okinawa, have protested having the V-22 operational in their country since it first arrived in 2012 due to its controversial safety record.
The tilt-rotor aircraft takes off and lands like a helicopter, but flies like an airplane. The combination of completely different designs makes the Osprey dangerously defective and unreliable. Jack McCain, U.S. Navy pilot and son of famous Vietnam Veteran, Senator John McCain, has called the aircraft a “piece of junk” for its many flaws. The air filtration system does not function appropriately and keeps the aircraft from operating and landing safely in dusty environments, such as Middle Eastern theatres of war. The rotor blades’ design increases its risk of a phenomenon called vortex ring state, which causes the aircraft to lose altitude too quickly often resulting in crash landings.
The deadliest Osprey crash to date occurred in 2000, killing 23 Marines while two test flights were attempting to land at Arizona’s Marana Northwest Regional Airport. A 2015 crash of an Osprey stationed at Bellows Air Force Base in Hawaii killed two Marines, 21-year-old Lance Cpl. Matthew Determan and 24-year-old Cpl. Joshua Barron. Our law firm and Honolulu lawyer Melvin Y. Agena currently represent Determan’s family. We will prove that this aircraft is defective and highly dangerous.
As we have written previously – and based on its history of crashes and deaths – it is just a matter of time before another V-22 tragedy. As long as this unsafe and poorly designed aircraft remains in operation we can only expect these tragedies to continue. If you need additional information about this subject, contact Mike Andrews, a lawyer in our firm’s Personal Injury & Products Liability Section at 800-898-2034 or Mike.Andrews@beasleyallen.com. Mike handles aviation litigation including several cases involving the Osprey.
Sources: Righting Injustice, Fortune, AviationPros, War is Boring (Blog), NBC News
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