MV-22 Ospreys return to flight operations
MV-22 Ospreys based on MCAS Futenma with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force resumed flight operations today.
“We have conducted a thorough, careful and exhaustive review of MV-22 aviation safety procedures and briefed Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials,” said U.S. Forces, Japan Commander Lt. Gen Jerry P. Martinez. “While the investigation is ongoing, we are highly confident in our assessment that the cause of the mishap was due solely to the aircraft’s rotor blades coming into contact with the refueling line. We greatly appreciate the strong support from our Alliance partner in the aftermath of this incident.”
U.S. Forces, Japan began notification of continued flight operations to the Government of Japan on Friday and concluded with a final briefing this morning. Lt. Gen Lawrence D. Nicholson, the Commanding General of III Marine Expeditionary Force, notified the Okinawa Prefectural Government and Okinawa Defense Bureau on the resuming of the flights.
“After a thorough and careful review of our safety procedures, checklists, and aircraft, I am highly confident that we can continue safe flight operations of the MV-22 in support of our Alliance partner and obligations,” said Nicholson. “It is very important for Japanese citizens to understand and share our utmost confidence in the safety and reliability of the MV-22, or we would not continue flight operations. It is equally important that we ensure our pilots have every opportunity to conduct training, which allows us to remain proficient, and enable us to respond when most needed in support of the Alliance,” Nicholson concluded.
All Ospreys on Okinawa were grounded following the last week’s crash. Resuming the flights, the U.S. military conformed it’s position that there’s nothing wrong with the aircraft itself, and the accident was caused by a rotor of the aircraft hitting a refueling hose during a training mission, and that broke the rotor and forced to aircraft down.
The Japanese Defense Ministry agreed that the safety of the Ospreys had been confirmed. “Restarting flights other than those involving aerial refueling is understandable,” Japan’s Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said
Okinawa Governor Takashi Onaga called the Defense Ministry move to accept the flights “outrageous,” and said that he could no longer deal with the central government in Tokyo. Onaga and the Prefectural Government had demanded a stop to all Osprey flights in Okinawa.