Top Letters And Comments: Dec. 5, 2023


Dangerous Osprey?

The V-22 Osprey is the only aircraft that I would refuse to fly on. If a helicopter is a group of parts trying to shake itself apart, these things are worse. How many of these things has to crash before someone up high decides the design is just too complicated for routine military maintenance and flight and shuts it down?

I have no quarrel with the need for an airplane that can fulfil the MISSION of the V-22 … my beef is that the designs — throughout the years … XC-124, XV-15, et al — necessary to provide a viable machine are just too complicated.
I’m sure someone will chime in and say “Wait until we know what happened.” I don’t need to wait. These things are dangerous. The number of crashes and other incidents speak for themselves.

I was at Edwards AFB during the testing of the XV-15 and that thing scared a lot of people. There were a lot of airplanes built to meet a mission requirement that were deemed too complicated, too dangerous or too something; it’s time to put this thing into that box, too.

During flight testing between 1991 and 2000, 30 people died in four crashes. After becoming operational in 2007, 12 more crashes plus other accidents and incidents have killed 33 more people, 13 of them in the last two years. The operational advantage of such a design is far outweighed by the crash and fatality history. Time to send these things to Tucson.

Larry Stencel

Here’s a comparison of the fatality rates per 100,000 flight hours, from high to low, for the V-22 Osprey, and other aircraft:

Aircraft (Fatality Rate Per 100,000 flt hrs}
V-22 Osprey (3.16)
F-18 (1.95)
F-22 (1.31)
F-35 (1.07)
F-16 (0.94)
CH-46 Sea Knight (1999-2009) (0.54)
CH-46 Sea Knight (2000-2019) (0.27)

The V-22’s fatality rate is higher than that of other helicopters in its class, including the CH-46 Sea Knight. It is also higher than that of fixed-wing aircraft such as the F-16. This is likely due to the V-22’s unique combination of helicopter and fixed-wing capabilities, and mission.
The fatality rates are averages so the actual fatality rate for any given aircraft can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the specific type of operations being conducted, the experience of the pilots, and the maintenance of the aircraft.

Despite its higher fatality rate, the V-22 is categorized as a valuable asset for the U.S. military. In the long term, according to military media postings, the military is planning to upgrade the V-22 with new engines and avionics. These upgrades will improve the aircraft’s performance, range, and reliability. Is it a keeper?

Raf Sierra

Collings Foundation Ends Flights

Very sad. I used to work right across the highway from Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View, CA, which was a regular stop for the Collings Foundation tours. Every day for a week, I’d hear the sound of the big four-engine bombers and the B-25 and P-51 as they flew overhead. I was fortunate to fly on the B-24, and it was a great experience.

Seeing and hearing these planes in the air is entirely different from seeing them static in a museum.

It’s very disappointing that poor maintenance and lax oversight led to the tragedy of Nine-O-Nine, which has now doomed what was a great living history experience.

Michael Cobb

Ifeel it is worth while to keep a few antiques flying and demonstratable, but the huge cost to keep them all flying is unmanageable and it has been shown that demo rides are not the way to fund them.

In the future I will be happy to help support keeping a few flying but not all. Seeing them in the air is the best way to understand history and the great level of technology and personal sacrifice of which they are examples.

I am sorry to see them stop flying especially as it was fairly obvious that they did not have the resources to do a good job of dealing with an old aging aircraft. So let’s keep a few flying and in good condition and use the rest for static display, spares etc. Not every museum or collector needs to have an example of every important antique aircraft in order to maintain a good flying record of our history.

William Lawson

NTSB Hearing On Pilot Mental Health

Depression, anxiety, and panic attacks are not signs of weakness. They are signs of being too strong for too long.

It’s time to move past the stigma of mental health issues and realize that in such a demanding field depression can be an occupational hazard that needs serious consideration. We are only beginning to look into treatment and ways to respond to pilots suffering from mental health conditions, but we need to move more towards prevention.

We now live in a world where almost everyone should be seeing a therapist on a regular basis, not to treat issues, but to head them off before they become severe. Depression does not happen overnight. It is a slow building condition that one day takes you by surprise, despite the facts that signs have been present all along. If we can abandon the stigma around depression and acknowledge the value of preventive therapy we can be a happier and healthier society.

Daniel Torres

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Fully agree on the V-22. Loss Aversion. Always thought of it as one of those Ronco (kitchen, fishing,…) devices that attempts to do the job of many things as one device. Stick to your knitting & do one job well.

  2. No matter how far you go down the wrong road, turn around! This Osprey nonsense speaks to how out of control, and how far down the wrong road our Pentagon (fed by Congress) has traveled.

    In Ike’s only book, written in Gettysburg, he warns us to be careful (in the future) of our own military. Ya just gotta wonder about an Air Force that wants to deep six the A-10 but keep flying the Osprey.

    • I served on the A-10 Test Team in the 70’s. Of ALL the projects I was involved with at Edwards AFB during my 15 1/2 years there, the A-10 stands out as the absolute best bang (pun intended 🙂 ) for the buck. I served a career in the USAF. It peeps me off that senior officers keep wanting to kill the A-10. They need to be taken behind the hangar by the senior NCO’s and — well — you know …

  3. Excellent comment on depression by Daniel Torres. My son was one of the strongest, smartest and nicest people you could meet, until anxiety and depression set in and he started using alcohol for self medication. He was no longer living at home and thought he could solve all of his issues because he was strong. Over the years he began to develop mental health issues and we dealt with it until his problems and alcohol ultimately cost him his life.
    He was under treatment and living at home the last 3 years. I began to think of the brain as part of the body and what is the difference between having an injured brain vs having a broken leg. Yet there is a stigma attached to mental problems, but not the rest of the body.
    Thank you for your insight and comment Daniel Torres. Very wise input.

  4. A good number of the Osprey accidents seem to fall squarely into Vortex Ring State. I remember one of the first: the aircraft was descending at some 800 fpm vertically and lost control. Is it possible the training doesn’t include basic helicopter knowledge? Or the aircraft is believed “immune” from helicopter problems and so training isn’t included?

  5. The Osprey accident *rate* is concerning, but only tells part of the story. How many accidents could have been prevented by proper crew training? Maintenance training? How many accidents were the result of poor/improper/incomplete training? Can changes be made to the operating envelope to mitigate future accidents? Etc, Etc.

  6. Off the subject(s), but this is the only way I know to communicate with you. I want to add another vote for bringing back the links between the articles and the comments. I am on an iPad so this may not be the same as it is on a PC. Somebody suggested that you could click on Aviation News at the top and select the current edition of AvWeb Flash. This is true sometimes, but still requires scrolling back to the top and then scrolling down again to select the next article you want. That’s if it works. Today it sent me to the bulletin about Van’s bankruptcy. After reading that, I tried to go back to the issue but it kept sending me back to the Van’s article. Had to close that and go back to the email and scroll down to find the next article. This has happened before. I can’t figure out why you removed such a no-brainer simple system.