|SLUG: 2-274592 Marines / Osprey (L only)||DATE:||NOTE NUMBER:|
TITLE=MARINES / OSPREY (L ONLY)
INTRO: The U-S Marine Corps says faults in the hydraulic system and with on-board computer software caused last December's fatal crash of an Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. V-O-A Correspondent Alex Belida reports from the Pentagon.
TEXT: Four Marines died in the crash, including two of the Corps' most experienced Osprey pilots. It was the second fatal crash of the revolutionary tilt-rotor aircraft last year, following an April incident that claimed the lives of 19 Marines.
Marine Major General Martin Berndt says that after a thorough investigation, officials have determined the crew was not at fault in the December tragedy.
/// BERNDT ACTUALITY ///
The mishap resulted from a hydraulic system failure compounded by a computer software anomaly. The aircrew reacted immediately and correctly to the in-flight emergency, as they were trained to do. We consider them to be without fault in this tragedy.
/// END ACTUALITY ///
General Berndt acknowledges that the hydraulic problem - involving the chafing and rupture of hydraulic lines - is one that officials have been aware of since June of 1999. He says the Marine Corps is now recommending a comprehensive review and possible redesign of the hydraulic system to prevent future failures.
As for the software problem, the general says officials will conduct a comprehensive review of the aircraft's entire computer control system to identify what he says could be design deficiencies.
The Marine Corps wants to buy more than 300 Ospreys, which can take off and land like helicopters but fly like conventional airplanes once airborne. The aircraft is capable of flying longer missions with a greater cargo or personnel capacity than the Marines' current aging fleet of helicopters.
But the small fleet of Ospreys already in service for test purposes has been grounded since last December's crash. The controversy surrounding the ill-fated aircraft has been compounded in recent months by charges that maintenance records for Ospreys have been falsified.
The Pentagon has delayed the decision on whether to proceed with full-scale production of the aircraft.