Osprey Crash — The Aircraft And Its Legacy


The first fatal crash of an Air Force CV-22 Osprey in Afghanistan, this April, served as a reminder of the aircraft’s costly and deadly development history, but comparing the current aircraft to the development aircraft may be an apples-to-oranges comparison. In this week’s podcast, AVweb‘s Glenn Pew speaks with Richard Whittle, author of the newly released book, “The Dream Machine: The Untold History of the Notorious V-22 Osprey.” In the podcast, Whittle explains the problems encountered during the Osprey’s development, the deadly crashes it experienced, and how the government’s own development process may have contributed to those problems. Today, Whittle believes the physical lessons of the Osprey’s development have been incorporated into the current Osprey airframe, along with its hardware and software. But the aircraft’s reputation in the general public may not have similarly evolved. And the government may have yet to incorporated the lessons learned.

Today, the Osprey has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and has safely flown more than 70,000 flight hours dispersed over more than 100 aircraft already delivered. Still, its long and very expensive development was as public as the fatal crashes that killed 30 people during the Osprey’s testing. And the aircraft’s 68-percent readiness level in Iraq leaves ample room for improvement. As the aircraft continues to serve quietly in Afghanistan, and the U.S. government seeks to tighten its belt, the aircraft’s more public history may prove hard to shake.

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