October 1, 2022
  • October 1, 2022

Air Force Ospreys are flying again, despite unresolved issues

By on September 4, 2022 0

After more than two weeks, Air Force Special Operation Command’s fleet of CV-22 Ospreys are flying again. But the Air Force did not fix the mechanical problem that caused the tiltrotor plane to be grounded.

On August 16, AFSOC Commander Lt. Gen. Jim Slife ordered the Ospreys grounded indefinitely following two crashes in the previous six weeks. The problem is hard clutch engagement – when the clutch slips, power from one engine goes to the other to ensure the plane is able to land safely if one engine loses power . The problem is that if this clutch quickly reconnects, the Osprey tilts heavily out of balance, which presents a great safety risk. In such a case, protocol dictates that the pilots land the Ospreys immediately.

Slife’s initial order was given to investigate and fix the cause of the problem, to protect the safety of airmen. But with this new order, AFSOC said it did not find the cause. Military Times reports that operations restarted this weekend, with pilots being asked to pause for two seconds on takeoff before increasing power, as an apparent workaround to the problem. AFSOC operates 52 Ospreys.

“Until a root cause is identified and a solution implemented, the focus is on mitigating operations in flight regimes where [hard clutch engagements] are more prevalent and ensuring that our crews are trained as best as possible to manage [them] when they happen,” an AFSOC spokesperson said in a statement to the Military Times.

Last month, an AFSOC Osprey made an emergency landing on the Norwegian island of Senja due to a clutch problem. This was one of the incidents that prompted the grounding order. scramble, a Dutch aviation website, reports that the Osprey is in the Stogodden Nature Reserve and therefore nearly impossible to repair on site. The Norwegian Air Force is studying ways to relocate it, but a shallow coastline and the difficulty of accessing the site without disturbing the landscape prevent challenges.

Prior to the two incidents this summer, AFSOC had only had two other incidents of hard clutch engagement since 2017.

The Marine Corps also operates Ospreys but chose not to discontinue flight operations when the Air Force did. At the time, a said the Marine Corps spokesman that the service is aware of the problem and that the Marines “have trained our pilots to respond with the appropriate emergency control measures should the problem arise during flight”.

Osprey crashes killed several Marines earlier this year. In March, four died while on a training mission in Norway. In June another osprey went down near Glamis, Californiakilling five Marines on board.

AFSOC is still investigating the cause of the hard clutch engagements.

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