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USMC Commandant tells Japan the ‘Osprey is safe’

Date Posted: 2012-08-17

The Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps has visited Okinawa, telling Marines and the general public the MV-22 Osprey is safe, noting there’ve been no fatal accidents in a decade of flight operations, despite two Marines having been killed in an Osprey incident in April.

General James Amos is trying to reassure Japan that the controversial tilt-rotor transport plan won’t be a problem deployed to Okinawa. He checked the first dozen MV-22 aircraft to arrive during an Iwakuni MCAS part of his visit. A Marine Corps spokesman clarified the commandant’s remarks, noting his “no fatalities in 10 years” statement applied to ten years prior to the April incident in Africa.

Okinawa’s governor, Hirokazu Nakaima, isn’t buying the “Osprey is safe” argument. He’s continuing to tell Japanese and American officials the plane must not be deployed to Okinawa, suggesting the wave of protests could undermine the entire stationing of U.S. troops on Okinawa. Although the U.S. has assured Japan the Ospreys will not fly until results of the April fatal incident and another accident in Florida are reviewed and presented to the Japanese government for review, most Okinawans aren’t happy.

An anti-Osprey rally is scheduled for September 9th in Okinawa, Hiroshi Ashitomi, a spokesman for one of the groups planning the protest, says the Marine Corps Commandant’s words are an affront to Okinawans. He was referring, at least in part, to a Marine Corps report and analysis that shows the MV-22 Osprey to have been involved in more accidents among the nine planes operated by the U.S. Marine Corps than any of the others.

The military’s division of aircraft accidents into Class A accidents involving fatalities or $2 million or more in damages, Class B accidents with injuries resulting in long-term disabilities or $500,000~2 million in damages, while Class C accidents result in minor injuries and damages of less than $500,000. The Marines’ data shows nine Class B accidents between October 2001 and last month for all nine aircraft, with an average of 2.07 incidents per100,000 hours flying time. The analysis shows the tilt-rotor MV-22’s average was 2.85, about 38% above the average.

In the Class C accidents category, an average of 10.46 have involved the Osprey a major increase over the overall rate of 4.58 accidents. Four Class A accidents were logged, a frequency of 1.93 cases for the Osprey, less than the 2.45 average.

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