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thedrifter
12-21-06, 08:31 PM
December 21, 2006
Osprey engine fire classified as Class B mishap

By Trista Talton
Staff writer

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — A Dec. 7 engine fire aboard a Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C.-based MV-22 Osprey likely caused less than $1 million in damage, according to preliminary estimates.

A planner and estimator team says the fire in the left nacelle of the Osprey belonging to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 was a Class B mishap, said Mike Barton, public affairs deputy director at MCAS Cherry Point, N.C.-based 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing headquarters.

“The incident is classified as a Class B,” he said. “Now, keep in mind this is still preliminary, so this could change down the road. It takes time to get exact amounts.”

The Defense Department defines a Class B mishap as involving property damage exceeding $200,000 but less than $1 million.

The fire occurred after the Osprey landed around 10 p.m. Dec. 7 on the New River flight line. The aircraft was shut down and the fire extinguished. No one was injured.

The incident remains under investigation.

Class A mishaps are the most serious and are defined as those that involve loss of life or serious injuries, total destruction of the aircraft or damage exceeding $1 million.

Ellie

thedrifter
12-21-06, 09:21 PM
Engineers trying to find cause of V-22 fire
By BOB COX
STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER

Marine officers overseeing the V-22 Osprey program are still trying to determine what caused a recent engine compartment fire that seriously damaged one of the Bell Helicopter-built aircraft.

Engineers are conducting a detailed examination of why fire erupted in the left-engine nacelle of a Marine V-22 on Dec. 7, shortly after the plane landed following a training flight. The fire was quickly extinguished and no personnel were injured.

“We understand what happened and how it happened, but what we don’t know is the root cause,” said James Darcy, spokesman for the Naval Air Systems V-22 Program Office at Patuxent River, Md.

The Marines have now categorized the incident as a Class B mishap, Darcy said, the second-highest ranking. A Class A mishap, which the fire was initially categorized as, indicates aircraft damage in excess of $1 million.

Choosing his words carefully, Darcy said the engine itself did not catch fire. He would not confirm reports that the fire was caused by a leaking or ruptured hydraulic line.

The nacelle - a large shell-like structure that contains the engine, fuel and hydraulic lines and numerous other controls - was not destroyed, he said.

As a result of the fire, the three squadrons training to fly the V-22 at Marine Corps Air Station New River, in North Carolina, are now flying the aircraft with air cleaning devices - called engine air particulate separators, or EAPS - switched off.

The devices filter dirt and debris in the air that can cause premature wear and tear when sucked into the giant turbine engines that turn the V-22 rotors.

Darcy said the air cleaning device did not cause the fire, but that switching the system off would prevent a recurrence of this particular incident.

This particular mishap, Darcy said, was not a recurrence of a previously discovered problem. A March 2005 nacelle fire was attributed to leaked hydraulic fluid that failed todrain from the air cleaning device properly, forcing that system to be redesigned.

During that time, the planes were also flown without the air cleaning system, which officials have acknowledged led to an increase in engine problems that may have due to excessive wear and tear.

Now in development for nearly 25 years, the highly complex tilt-rotor V-22 has been plague with myriad mechanical and technological problems. Three of the aircraft crashes, including two fatal ones, were caused by mechanical, design and software problems.

A fourth crash in April 2005 that killed 19 Marines was later attributed largely to pilot error, a finding that remains the subject of considerable debate.

The author of a recent study highly critical of the V-22 said the recent fire again highlights the extraordinary complexity of the aircraft developed and built by Bell and Boeing.

“This thing is so fragile it’s unbelievable,” said Lee Gaillard, a freelance writer who has written extensively on aviation safety issues.

He recently authored a report entitled "V-22 Osprey: Wonder Weapon or Widow Maker?” for the Center for Defense Information, a Washington ,D.C., think tank, that was critical of the Osprey’s design, testing and reliability.

A hybrid aircraft, the V-22 can land and take off like a helicopter. By rotating its wingtip-mounted engine nacelles, it also can also fly at the greater forward speeds of a turboprop airplane.

The operating restriction on the use of the air cleaning device during flights is a precaution until engineers investigating the fire understand why it occurred.

“The possibility exists there could be implications for other Ospreys,” Darcy said.

Senior Marine leaders have vigorously defended the Osprey from aviation and political critics for many years, and say it represents a revolutionary improvement over conventional helicopters.

The Marines, in an article in Marine Times, argued that Gaillard’s criticisms are largely based on problems with the V-22 that have already been fixed or addressed through pilot training.
Bob Cox, 817-390-7723
rcox@star-telegram.com

Ellie

thedrifter
12-22-06, 08:58 AM
Posted on Fri, Dec. 22, 2006

Fire still mystifies Marine officers

By BOB COX
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Marine officers overseeing the V-22 Osprey program are still trying to determine what caused a recent engine-compartment fire that seriously damaged one of the Bell Helicopter-built aircraft.

Engineers are conducting a detailed examination of why fire erupted in the left engine nacelle of a Marine V-22 on Dec. 7, shortly after the plane landed after a training flight at Marine Corps Air Station New River, in North Carolina. The fire was quickly extinguished, and no one was injured.

"We understand what happened and how it happened, but what we don't know is the root cause," said James Darcy, spokesman for the Naval Air Systems V-22 Program Office at Patuxent River, Md.

The Marines have categorized the incident as a Class B mishap, Darcy said, the second-highest ranking. The fire was originally rated a Class A mishap, which indicates aircraft damage in excess of $1 million.

Choosing his words carefully, Darcy said the engine itself did not catch fire. He would not confirm reports that the fire resulted from a leaking or ruptured hydraulic line.

The nacelle -- a large shell-like structure that contains the engine, fuel and hydraulic lines and numerous controls -- was not destroyed, he said.

As a result of the fire, the three squadrons training to fly the V-22 at Marine Corps Air Station New River are now flying the aircraft with air-cleaning devices -- called engine air particulate separators -- switched off.

The devices filter dirt and debris that can cause wear and tear when sucked into the giant turbine engines that turn the V-22's rotors.

Darcy said the air-cleaning device did not cause the fire, but that switching the system off would prevent a recurrence.

This mishap, Darcy said, was not a recurrence of a previously discovered problem. A March 2005 nacelle fire was attributed to leaked hydraulic fluid that failed to drain from the air-cleaning device properly. The system was redesigned.

Until the redesign was complete, the planes were flown without the air-cleaning system, which officials have acknowledged led to an increase in engine problems.

The highly complex tilt-rotor V-22, which has been in development for nearly 25 years, has been plagued with myriad mechanical and technological problems. Three of the aircraft crashes, including two fatal ones, were caused by mechanical, design and software failures.

A fourth crash in April 2005 that killed 19 Marines was later attributed largely to pilot error, a finding that remains the subject of considerable debate.

The author of a recent study highly critical of the V-22 said the recent fire again highlights the extraordinary complexity of the aircraft developed and built by Bell and Boeing.

"This thing is so fragile it's unbelievable," said Lee Gaillard, a freelance writer who has written extensively on aviation-safety issues.

He recently authored a report for the Center for Defense Information, a think tank in Washington, D.C., titled "V-22 Osprey: Wonder Weapon or Widow Maker?" that was critical of the Osprey's design, testing and reliability.

A hybrid aircraft, the V-22 can take off and land like a helicopter. By rotating its wingtip-mounted engine nacelles, it also can fly at the greater speeds of a turboprop airplane.

The restriction on the use of the air-cleaning device during flights is a precaution until engineers understand why the fire occurred.

"The possibility exists there could be implications for other Ospreys," Darcy said.

Senior Marine leaders have vigorously defended the Osprey from critics for many years and say it represents a revolutionary improvement over conventional helicopters.

The Marines, in an article in Marine Times, argued that Gaillard's criticisms are largely based on problems with the V-22 that have been fixed or addressed through pilot training.
Bob Cox, 817-390-7723 rcox@star-telegram.com

Ellie