This story was up to date at 8/18/2022 at 9:40 am with remark from Naval Air Programs Command.
WASHINGTON — Air Drive Particular Operations Command has grounded all 52 of its CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor plane indefinitely as the results of a “elevated variety of security incidents” involving an unknown and probably harmful difficulty with the clutch, Breaking Protection has discovered.
AFSOC Commander Lt. Gen. Jim Slife ordered the security standdown on Tuesday within the wake of two security incidents that had occurred over the previous six weeks, with a complete of 4 such occasions occurring since 2017, AFSOC spokeswoman Lt. Col. Becky Heyse mentioned in a press release.
AFSOC describes the issue as a “exhausting clutch engagement.” Mainly, the clutch inside a gearbox that connects one of many CV-22’s two Rolls-Royce Liberty AE1107C engines to the propeller rotor is slipping for an unknown motive, Heyse mentioned. When that occurs, the facility load transfers almost instantaneously to the opposite engine — a design characteristic that might permit the Osprey to maintain flying even when one engine fails. Then, generally, the preliminary clutch re-engages, and the facility load quickly shifts again to the unique propeller rotor and engine.
On account of the speedy motion of energy throughout engines, nonetheless, the aircrew is pressured to land the CV-22 instantly, and Heyse added that “if the aircrew had been unable to manage the plane when the incident happens, it might end in lack of management and uncontrolled touchdown of the plane.”
Heyse mentioned the problem has not precipitated any accidents or deaths “due largely to the ability and professionalism of our Air Commandos who function the CV-22.”
“The protection of our Airmen is of the utmost significance, due to this fact no AFSOC CV-22s will fly till we’ll decide the reason for the exhausting clutch engagements and threat management measures are put in place,” she mentioned.
In lots of circumstances, each gearboxes and engines require replacements after the incident — making them Class A mishaps with harm in extra of $2.5 million.
“In coordination with the Joint Program Workplace, AFSOC has been unable to collect sufficient engineering information evaluation to precisely determine root trigger, so it’s unknown if it’s mechanical, design, software program or some mixture of any of these,” Heyse mentioned.
She mentioned AFSOC employees would “work with the Joint Program Workplace and business companions to completely perceive this difficulty and develop threat management measures to mitigate the chance of catastrophic outcomes… In the end, the objective is to find out a viable, long-term materiel answer.”
The V-22 Osprey is the US navy’s first tiltrotor plane, able to taking off vertically and hovering like a helicopter in addition to — after rotating its nacelles — flying ahead at high-speeds like an airplane. Bell-Boeing builds three variants of the Osprey: the CV-22, which AFSOC declared operational in 2009; the Marine Corps’ MV-22; and the CMV-22B utilized by the Navy to fly provides and personnel to plane carriers.
The V-22 has generated controversy over its 30 years of operations resulting from a historical past of a spread of questions of safety, which have generally led to crashes and fatalities. Lately, a March 2022 MV-22 crash in Norway resulted within the deaths of 4 Marines, whereas a June 2022 crash in California killed 5. (A Marine Corps investigation discovered that the March crash was resulting from pilot error, based on the investigation report. A Marine official mentioned on the time of the June crash that its trigger was beneath investigation.) In late June the Marines ordered a quick security standdown of all Marine Plane Wing items to evaluation finest practices and security procedures.
In a press release, a Naval Air Programs Command spokeswoman mentioned NAVAIR and the V-22 Joint Program Workplace are working with Bell Boeing to resolve the “identified V-22 plane clutch” difficulty.
“Whereas root trigger stays beneath investigation, we’re implementing further threat mitigation controls to make sure the security of our service members,” she mentioned. “This system workplace continues to speak and collaborate with all V-22 clients, together with allied companions. The protection of pilots and air crews is our primary precedence.”
The Marine Corps and Navy didn’t instantly reply to questions on whether or not the problem additionally impacts Marine Corps and Navy V-22s. Bell-Boeing deferred remark to the Protection Division. This report can be up to date with further data because it turns into accessible.
Breaking Protection’s Justin Katz contributed to this report.