Osprey operations outside Okinawa to be studied

Even as test flights of the MV-22 Osprey are taking place at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, the Japanese and U.S. governments will study a transfer of some of planned operations of the U.S. Marine Corps’ MV-22 Osprey aircraft outside Okinawa Prefecture.

Jiji Press learned that at the same time the Japanese government declared the tilt-rotor plane safe to operate and announced measures to ensure its safe flight operations, the government  also made it clear that Japan and the United States will explore the possibility of operating the aircraft outside Okinawa after its deployment at the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station in Ginowan City.  To ease fears of accidents to be caused by the Osprey among residents near the Futenma base, Tokyo and Washington may study the idea of transferring planned training flights from the base to mainland Japan.

The government’s safety declaration was made on its findings that the Osprey crashes in Morocco in April and in Florida in June were both caused by human error, not by mechanical failures.  Because there is no reason to think that the Osprey is more dangerous than other planes, the aircraft’s operations is now started on the premise that the safety of local residents will be given full considerations, the government says.

It will underscored the significance of having the aircraft in Japan, by saying its deployment will strengthen deterrence of the U.S. forces in the country and contribute to peace and stability in the region.  To secure Japanese people’s safety, Osprey planes will be required to keep an altitude of at least 150 meters during low-altitude flight drills over the country.  Nighttime flights at the Futenma base will be limited to the minimum necessary, and vertical takeoffs and landings will be basically allowed only within the premises of the base.
The U.S. military plans to deploy 12 MV-22 Osprey planes at the base in October after conducting test flights at another Marine base in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, for some two weeks.