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CLARA MOSCHINI

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Tilt-rotors: another Osprey (hybrid, airplane-helicopter) crashed in Japan. Five wounded

Okinawa, Japan - Tokyo protests and asks again the grounding pending on the explanations on the causes

Another MV-22B Osprey crashed last Tuesday in shallow sea waters off shore of Okinawa (east of Nago city), in Japan. And it is only the last of a series of crashes that have seen involved these aircraft of the Aviation of the US Marine Corps. Osprey is a hybrid aircraft able to take off as a helicopter and to fly (but also land) as an airplane thanks to the swinging "wings": here the definition in English as tilt-rotor. It has been built by Bell/Boeing to meet exigencies by US Navy and US Army. A program badly born, that after suspensions, restorations and huge costs increase, has provoked 30 deaths between civil and military during the tests, only in 25 years of development. Japan ordered different models. In the past the move of some Osprey at the American bases in Japan had caused strong protests by the local population. The citizens of the Eastern Country were strongly worried due to the different crashes happened to these tilt-rotors during the years and in particular in 2012 (see for details AVIONEWS, in that year). Certainly this last crash will not mitigate the situation. In fact the accident has risen the protest by Defence Ministry of Tokyo that has asked again the grounding of all tilt-rotors present on the territory until the causes of the event will not be known. Occured last Tuesday in the evening (local hour), when Osprey left the base in Futenma to participate at a drill. It seems that the aircraft was conducting an air refuelling operation when the rotor blades have hit the refueller grab remaining damaged. Official American sources said that to make a sea landing and to leave aircraft in shallow waters has been the lesser evil chosen by pilot. All five crewmembers belonging to the 36th Marine Aircraft Group and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing have been saved by a US Air Force's Squadron departed from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. The five have been transported to the US naval hospital in Camp Foster. The III Marine Expeditionary Force that has officialized the news, however it has not unveiled about their conditions' seriousness. The protests after this nth fact are not only by Japanese side, but an evident dissatisfaction, and worry, spread also among the same American soldiers in Japan, who that for long lost complain as other causes of these events, the ageing of the aircraft already consumed, the cut to the balance that delay repairs and maintenance (and cause also of the leak replacing of aircraft already old aided by the fact that also delay of the F-35 Joint Strke Fighter aircraft programme, that should go to replace all F/A-18 Hornet, EA-6B Prowler and AV-8B Harrier II of the Marines). Without to count on the human stress given by the worry to fly these aircraft. A formal inquiry has been opened by the military authorities about this last crash, according to a very short statement. "Further information on the causes will not be diffused until the inquiry will not be completed".

fra/pec - 1200766

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