Marine Corps investigators continue to probe why an MV-22B Osprey caught on fire while trying to land in San Diego last month.
According to the Naval Safety Center, the tiltrotor aircraft’s engine erupted in flames on Oct. 14 while its crew was on a “short final” at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
That’s usually the final leg of a landing, when the aircraft is descending, at low altitude, and close to the runway.
It’s a feature of touch-and-go landings during aviation training. An aircraft flying a loop pattern lands without fully stopping, and then takes off again.
A MV-22 Osprey from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (VMM-161), Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, conducts high-altitude landing at Mammoth Yosemite Airport in Mammoth Lakes, California, on May 24, 2022. VMM-161 conducted a logistics support mission and high-altitude flight training during an exercise at Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport. US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michelle Brooks.
On Oct. 14, the pilots landed the Osprey and none of the three crew members were injured, but the Naval Safety Center indicated the aircraft “received significant burn damage.”
The Navy marked it as a Class A mishap, which means the blaze caused at least a $2.5 million loss.
Maj. Mason Englehart, the spokesperson for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, told Coffee or Die Magazine the incident happened at approximately 4:30 p.m. local time in San Diego.
It happened during a routine training flight by the “Greyhawks” of Miramar-based Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161, he added.
US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. August Reynolds, an aircraft maintainer with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing , conducts routine maintenance on an MV-22B Osprey at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Jan. 5, 2022. US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Rachaelanne Woodward.
Built by Boeing, the Osprey is a unique aircraft because it combines the vertical performance of a hovering helicopter with the speed, altitude, and range of fixed-wing turboprop aircraft.
The Miramar fire was the first Marine Corps aviation Class A mishap for the federal fiscal year that began on Oct. 1.
Last year, the Marines suffered two very serious Class A accidents involving Ospreys.
On June 8, an MV-22B on a routine training flight from Arizona’s Marine Corps Air Station Yuma crashed, killing five crew members.
And on March 18 during another routine training flight near Bodo, Norway, an Osprey went down, killing four crew members.
Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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