Software was secondary cause of Osprey crash, JAG finds

Software was secondary cause of Osprey crash, JAG finds

By Dawn S. Onley

GCN Staff

APRIL 13—While four Marines aboard a V-22 Osprey frantically pushed a software reset button last December, the tilt-rotor aircraft flew into a frenzy. It gained and lost air speed and altitude before crashing in a marshy area seven miles from the Marine Corps Air Station at New River, N.C.

The flight-control software problem was ruled the second main cause of the fatal accident. The first was a hydraulic line that ruptured after chafing. The Marines pushed the reset button about eight times, but it failed to kick in, finally stalling the Osprey seconds before it crashed.

Those were the findings last week of the Marines' judge advocate general, based on information from nearly four months of interviews, study of recording devices, and investigations involving air traffic controllers and engineers.

The JAG recommended that the Naval Air Systems Command and Osprey manufacturers Boeing Co. and Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas, conduct a comprehensive review of the vehicle management system and software, said Maj. Gen. Martin R. Berndt, commander of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Since 1991, Osprey aircraft have been involved in four accidents, three of them fatal. Last April, an Osprey crash killed all 19 Marines on board. Full-scale production of the aircraft, which could cost up to $30 billion, has been put on hold until a blue-ribbon panel issues a report later this year.

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