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Tuesday December 12, 2000

Marine Corps Osprey Crashes in North Carolina

JACKSONVILLE, N.C., USA ( Reuters ) - A U.S. Marine MV-22 Osprey carrying a crew of four crashed on Monday night in North Carolina, the second crash this year of a tilt-rotor aircraft.

Rescuers reached the crash site in a heavily wooded area about 10 miles north of the Marine Corps New River Air Station in the southeastern part of the state. There was no word on the fate of the crew.
The hybrid helicopter-airplane crashed on a training mission, the Marine Corps said.
The aircraft belongs to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 based at New River. It is among the first of 360 MV-22 Ospreys the Marine Corps plans to buy to replace its aging fleet of transport helicopters.
Another Osprey crashed on a training mission in Arizona last April, killing 19 aboard. That crash was blamed on pilot error.
The $44 million aircraft is designed to take off like a helicopter and fly like an airplane. The aircraft is built by Boeing and Bell Helicopter, a division of Textron Inc .

Marine Corps Osprey Suffers Another Fatal Crash

WASHINGTON , USA ( Reuters, Dec.12 ) - The Marine Corps faced new questions Tuesday about its tilt-rotor MV-22 ``Osprey'' aircraft after one crashed in North Carolina Monday night, killing three marines and leaving a fourth missing and presumed dead.

No cause was immediately determined for the accident in a wooded area north of the Marine Corps New River Air Station in southeastern North Carolina. It was the second fatal training crash this year of the revolutionary MV-22, which uses rotating wingtip engines to take off and land like a helicopter.
The Navy recently postponed for several weeks a decision on whether to go into full-scale production of the first of 360 MV-22s, built by Boeing Co. and the Bell Helicopter division of Textron Inc., after a Pentagon report criticized maintenance problems in the aircraft.
That initial production contract to be signed next spring would be worth up to $1 billion for 20 aircraft. But the long-range value of production could be $30 billion including sales to the Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force Special Operations.
The Marine Corps itself plans to buy 360 of them at a cost of more than $44 million each, although a recent report by Philip Coyle, the Pentagon's director of test and evaluation, worried that the cost could escalate sharply.
Another of the hybrid helicopter airplanes crashed on a training mission in Arizona last April, killing all 19 marines on board. That crash was blamed on pilot error.

Defense Of The New Aircraft

The MV-22 is designed to replace the Marine Corps CH-46 medium-lift helicopter first bought in 1964, and both the Pentagon and Marine Corp recently defended the new aircraft despite Coyle's report.
Monday night's crash occurred during a training mission, the Marine Corps said.
Rescuers reached the crash site in a heavily wooded area about 10 miles (16 km) north of the Marine Corps New River Air Station in the southeastern part of the North Carolina.
Marine spokesman Capt. James Rich said rescuers located the remains of three crewmembers but were unable to immediately identify them, and were searching for the fourth.
The crewmembers were Lt. Col. Keith M. Sweaney, 42, from Richmond, Va.; Maj. Michael L. Murphy, 38, from Blauvelt, N.Y.; Staff Sgt. Avely W. Runnels, 25, from Morven, Ga.; and Sgt. Jason A. Buyck, 24, from Sodus, N.Y.
The aircraft belonged to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 based at New River.
Coyle said in his recent report that the MV-22 was effective for its intended mission of delivering Marine troops ashore. But he said there were troublesome and potentially costly maintenance problems.
``I don't agree that the V-22 is a troubled program ... it is a maturing program,'' Marine Brig. James Amos told reporters on Nov. 30 in response to questions about the Coyle report.
Both Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon and Amos, deputy director of aviation for the Marine Corps, stressed at the time that while there are always maintenance problems with new aircraft, those are ironed out and fixed over time.
Amos said problems with attaching cables and wires to the carbon airframe of the V-22 had been fixed along with some initial difficulty in folding the propellers and wings to make the aircraft better fit aboard navy launch ships.
``In terms of the costs of making the plane operate, the costs of keeping the plan operating, it (the Coyle report) does conclude that they could be lower,'' Bacon said.
``And the Marines are confident that the costs will be lower, and that they will get lower as they begin to get this into the force and they begin working on the plane.''

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