Marine Corps Says Pilot Error To Blame For Osprey Crash Off Okinawa In December

Gear
AP Image/Kyodo

The Marine Corps says pilot error was to blame for an MV-22 Osprey’s crash-landing off Camp Schwab late last year.


One of the helicopter-plane hybrid’s propellers clipped a thick hose on an Air Force C-130 tanker during nighttime refueling on Dec. 13, 2016. The Osprey’s pilot flew 18 miles to shore but decided to put the tilt-rotor aircraft down into the sea rather than fly over a residential area to reach Marine Corps Air Station Futemna, the Marines said at the time. Two crewmembers were injured.

“I want to again thank the Japan Coast Guard, Okinawan Police and the U.S. Air Force 33rd and 31st Rescue Squadrons for their support and assistance during this incident,” Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, III Marine Expeditionary Force commander, said in a statement Monday. “This was a regrettable incident but one that could have been much worse without the quick reaction of the crew and the support of our Okinawan and Air Force partners. We will continue safe flight operations of the MV-22 and all of our aircraft in support of our Alliance with Japan.”

Nicholson delivered a report on the crash investigation’s findings to Okinawa Vice Gov. Moritake Tomikawa during a meeting Monday at Camp Zukeran in Kitanakagusuku Village.

“It was firmly explained that it was a problem with the pilot’s skill and not a malfunction to the aircraft itself,” Tomikawa told reporters after the meeting. “As a matter of fact, we are not convinced, of course [with the explanation].”

Marine officials could not be reached for comment on the pilot’s status or whether punishment had been handed down.

According to a statement on the report released Monday by Japan’s Ministry of Defense, the Osprey made several attempts to connect to the tanker’s refueling basket but was unsuccessful. The crew then received a fuel warning and was instructed to turnaround and head south toward Futenma.

As the Osprey again approached the fuel tanker, the pilot noticed it was approaching with too much power, the ministry statement said. The pilot decreased the power but could not maintain a normal distance. The refueling basket descended and then ascended, hitting the Osprey’s right propeller. The Osprey immediately ceased refueling efforts and was instructed to move away from the tanker.

On the way back to shore, the Osprey’s pilot was forced to fly in fixed wing mode out of concerns about the aircraft’s thrust, the ministry statement said. The aircraft was vibrating.

The Osprey was ultimately put down into the sea off Camp Schwab because the pilot felt it would be difficult to safely maintain altitude and speed over land, the ministry statement said.

Poor maintenance and equipment malfunction did not contribute to the crash, it added.

“The pilot and crew of the Osprey took at least 12 hours of rest the night before the incident and there was no sign of fatigue or stress that would lead to the incident,” the statement said. “The Osprey’s pilot had valid certification to conduct flight training and air refueling activities. Each crewmember was also eligible for training and were crew chiefs who had valid certification, with absolutely no concern over their capability to accomplish the mission and their expertise.”

The U.S. military took a series of preventative measures after the crash, from adding wake turbulence to flight simulators to education and instruction, the statement added.

———

©2017 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

An Oregon Air National Guard F-15C Eagle that made an emergency landing on Wednesday ditched its entire arsenal of live air-to-air missiles before touching down at Portland International Airport, The War Zone reports.

Read More Show Less

Several hundred U.S. troops will remain in Syria after allied forces clear ISIS fighters out of their last stronghold in the country, officials said on Friday.

President Donald Trump announced in December that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, but Sen. Lindsey Graham has since made a strong push to keep a small residual force along the Turkish border along with troops from European allies.

Read More Show Less
Chris Osman (Photo: _chris_osman_designs/Instagram)

The former Navy SEAL among a group of eight men arrested earlier this week in Port-au-Prince on weapons charges says he was providing security work "for people who are directly connected to the current President" of Haiti.

"We were being used as pawns in a public fight between him and the current Prime Minister of Haiti," said Chris Osman, 44, in a post on Instagram Friday. "We were not released we were in fact rescued."

Read More Show Less
Former Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis (DoD photo)

A Richland, Washington city councilman thinks native son Jim Mattis would make a terrific governor or even president.

Read More Show Less

It's a photo for the ages: a Marine NCO, a Greek god in his dress blues, catches the eye of a lovely young woman as her boyfriend urges her on in distress. It's the photographic ancestor of the much-loved "distracted boyfriend" stock photo meme, made even sweeter by the fact that this is clearly a sailor about to lose his girl to a Devil Dog.

Well, this photo and the Marine in it, which hopscotched around Marine Corps Facebook and Instagram pages before skyrocketing to the front page of Reddit on Thursday, are very real.

The photo shows then-Staff Sgt. Louis A. Capozzoli — and he is absolutely not on his way to steal your girl.

Read More Show Less